The way we generate and consume energy changes seemingly by the day.
The electric car was once laughed at and disregarded as a pipe dream. Now, hybrids rule the road and companies are following Tesla's lead. Solar energy used to be viewed as too expensive and not worth the hassle, but now you're seen more and more homes and buildings topped with solar panels.
We are in the middle of a grand energy disruption. The way we obtain and use electricity will be completely different in just a few years, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. The global public is starting to embrace green energy technology, leading to a shift from traditional norms.
As homes themselves become more digitized, that means an increase in energy needed. These three trends emerging now will shape the future of energy.
Solar is Serious
Do you still think solar power is too expensive? You're in for a surprise.
Solar energy has absolutely plummeted in price and is now a cost-efficient source. The technology has finally caught up, allowing us to capture more of the sun's energy.
Did you know that in 88 minutes, 470 exajoules of energy from the sun reach Earth? That's as much energy as the earth consumes in one year. Additionally, in just 112 hours, the sun provides 36 zettajoules of energy -- that's roughly the same amount of energy contained in our reserves of natural gas, coal and oil around the planet.
The sun should be our greatest natural resource. Price per watt has dropped from $76.67 per watt in 1977 to $0.74 per watt in 2013, and it continues to fall precipitously. Some experts believe that by the solar capacity triples by 2020, solar could be half the cost of coal and natural gas.
It's no secret that solar installations are on the rise. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, a new solar installation happened every 84 seconds in Q3 2016. It's time to take solar power seriously.
The Rise of Electric Vehicles
I don't think it's possible to have a discussion about disruption without mentioning the work that Elon Musk is doing with electric car company Tesla.
Much like the major trend in solar, as electric car adoption has risen, the cost of owning one has fallen.
Tesla has become the flagship electric vehicle, leading the industry when it comes to innovation -- and sales. Led by the Tesla Model S, electric car ownership is experiencing a 59 percent year-over-year growth. Additionally, plug-in hybrid sales rose 86 percent YoY.
Tesla's Q4 sales rose 27 percent, but the company narrowly missed its ambitious goal of shipping 80,000 vehicles by the end of 2016.
The facts are clear: the electric car is a realistic option and here to stay. As we look for ways to wean off of fossil fuels, companies such as Tesla, Chevrolet and Nissan are working to make the electric car run longer for cheaper.
Right now, the electric car is primarily an option for city dwellers and not optimal for long road trips, but that is changing. Tesla is leading the industry in developing a battery that can make sense for Middle America.
When that happens, watch the sale of electric vehicles experience a major boom.
The Internet of Things
Our lives are becoming incredibly digitized. According to Pew Research Center, the percentage of people who own energy-sucking smartphones has climbed from 35 percent in 2011 to 68 percent in 2015. I'm sure that number has only increased in 2017.
GlobalWebIndex data shows that digital consumers own an average of 3.6 internet-connected devices. That number is steadily climbing, and will only grow as more households become connected via IoT devices.
These IoT devices such as smart fridges are built with energy efficiency in mind, and consumers are realizing that the up-front costs of smart devices can be balanced with a reduced energy bill. A PwC study shows that 30 percent of consumers polled said lower energy bills are a primary motivator behind purchasing smart home technology.
The global IoT marketplace is expected to grow from 15.4 billion devices in 2015 to 75.44 billion in 2025. The big conclusion: we need energy solutions to power the rise of all these devices.
I expect that the boom of IoT will lead to energy reform, changing the way more people think of energy production and consumption.