It’s been a chaotic year for the energy transition – a year that originally was anticipated to be one of progress and momentum. However, interest rates, the rise of artificial intelligence and national elections have caused a great deal of uncertainty. As we move towards the second half of the calendar year, conversations have turned to upgrading the national grid and nuclear power while elections continue to be held.

In 2023, many professionals and businesses across the energy industry felt hopeful for 2024. However, with interest rates and supply chain costs remaining high, attitudes towards the energy transition have waned. On top of this, investors have begun to focus their interest and their dollars on the power of artificial intelligence, attracted to the fast potential growth and quick returns it could bring, compared to the long game of investing in green energy.

Elections also play their part in the progress made towards net zero as many governmental organisations typically slow down or hold off on new projects and funding initiatives, and investors hold back in anticipation of changes to existing policies or the introduction of new ones.


Investment in energy

Attendees at our recent energy transition dinner in Houston raised concerns around the national grid which currently stands at around 40 years old, with some sections of it to be 50 years old. With old infrastructure and the increased demand for electricity, the national grid is expected to work harder, keep up with demand and remain stable through increasingly common weather events. Right now, our vast amount of technology is putting a significant strain on a network that was built for a smaller population with far less demands.

So, what are the biggest stressors on the grid? Electric vehicles (EVs) and artificial intelligence (AI) are driving the lion’s share of energy. Many believe EVs alone will drive load growth by 45 per cent, requiring a cash injection of $1 trillion by 2050.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Last year, 25 GW of solar power was added to the grid helping to meet demand in some areas across the US. However, batteries are still a mainstay and programs such as the California Flex Alert have been introduced to encourage users to reduce their usage at peak times.

Currently, the US infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act has $65 billion in funds specifically for upgrading and expanding the grid, but more will be needed alongside a lot of time.


Where will the funds come from?

Cash-rich energy majors are the first to spring to mind offering renewable energy tariffs to customers. However, it’s worth noting that investment by these corporations are beholden to shareholder interest, low margin and high volume markers need justification in order to go forward.

Private Equity firms were also another popular option raised by our dinner attendees. As of the time of publication, Blackstone portfolio company, Transmission Developers (TDI) are backing Champlain Hudson Power Express, a $6 bn transmission line that will deliver 1.25 GW of hydropower from Quebec to New York which is due to complete in 2026. Hydro-Quebec will pay TDI a capacity payment over 40 years, delivering the kind of long-term derisked return that private equity backers enjoy.

But could it be down to the ‘Magnificent 7’? Conversations at the dinner turned to big tech as a potential answer. Meta and Google have already scoped out power purchase agreements with solar farms in Denmark and Norway respectively, and Microsoft has also signed a 5-year 10.5 GW of renewable power for its operations in Europe and the US.

This purchasing power alone will help build out a greener and more resilient energy grid and could encourage other big tech firms to do the same.



SMRs (small modular reactors) were also a key discussion point with many attendees positive that these could be a cheaper and faster way to adopt nuclear energy compared to building large scale reactors. But is there an underlying cost – financial or otherwise – to this convenience?

In the US, nuclear energy is popular on both sides of the aisle – however, the biggest blockers to adopting this are grid access, planning and permits. With the US presidential election campaign already underway, progress will be determined on the winning administration and any new policies, changes or removal of current initiatives.

Looking at what is available now in the US versus in the future, one saving grace to current policies has been the change from ‘first-come, first-served’ to ‘first-ready, first-served’ ensuring that viable projects don’t get stuck in the queue.


Despite so many moving cogs and a great deal of uncertainty, the energy transition is still moving forward. What is needed now and will certainly be needed in the future, are leaders with the technical knowledge, ability to be comfortable with being uncomfortable and making decisions amidst a sea of change. What will drive the energy transition forward won’t just be electricity, but people.

Download the white paper to find out what else our attendees discussed and how it’s affecting the energy transition in the US.