In Part 1 of this series, we focused on changes in the ‘upstream’ portion of the clean electricity value chain, exploring the potential for technologies like wind and solar to accelerate their existing growth rates. In Part 2, we unpicked the emerging ‘midstream’ in clean power that’s using storage and hydrogen technologies to make renewables more flexible and reliable.

Here, in Part 3, we look at how energy users in the ’downstream’ segment (industrial, commercial and residential customers) are changing the way they buy and use energy. We describe how falling technology costs and accelerating government policies are creating new opportunities for companies at the cutting edge of shifts in US energy demand.

Executive summary

  • A potential re-ordering of the relationship between energy producers and consumers presents numerous opportunities for equipment suppliers, infrastructure providers and new market entrants.
  • Technological advances are enabling consumers to take charge of their energy use. Early adopters are demonstrating the bottom-line benefits of wrestling control away from incumbent energy producers.
  • With this push from consumers, the US energy system could shift rapidly towards higher rates of efficiency, electrification and independence from fossil fuels. But the potential won’t be realized without substantial hardware and software upgrades to US power networks.
  • Consumers can be an important catalyst for innovation – if regulators let them. Regional and state agencies should resist their pressure to restrict the higher levels that distributed generation enables.

Nothing presented herein is intended to constitute investment advice and no investment decision should be made solely based on this information.  Nothing presented should be construed as a recommendation to purchase or sell a particular type of security or follow any investment technique or strategy.  Information presented herein reflects Impax Asset Management’s views at a particular time.  Such views are subject to change at any point and Impax Asset Management shall not be obligated to provide any notice.  Any forward-looking statements or forecasts are based on assumptions and actual results are expected to vary.  While Impax Asset Management has used reasonable efforts to obtain information from reliable sources, we make no representations or warranties as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of third-party information presented herein.  No guarantee of investment performance is being provided and no inference to the contrary should be made.

Charlie Donovan

Senior Economic Advisor

Charlie Donovan is Senior Economic Advisor at Impax Asset Management and Professor of Practice in the Department of Finance and Business Economics at the University of Washington. Charlie’s role at Impax deepens the firm’s expertise in understanding the opportunities arising from a global energy transition. He contributes to Impax’s thought leadership initiatives and provides insights on North American policy developments to Impax’s clients and investment teams. He is a member of the Impax Sustainability Centre.

Before joining lmpax in 2022, Charlie was previously Professor of Practice at Imperial College London and Founding Executive Director of lmperial’s Centre for Climate Finance and Investment. In his corporate career, Charlie was Head of Structuring and Valuation for Global Power at BP plc and part of the team that launched BP Alternative Energy in 2005 with an $8 billion funding commitment. He began his career as an Energy Policy Analyst at the US Environmental Protection Agency during the Clinton Administration.

Charlie is co-author and editor of Renewable Energy Finance: Powering the Future, now in its second edition. He holds a BA from the University of Washington, an MBA from Vanderbilt University, and gained a DBA (Doctor of Business Administration) in finance from IE Business School.

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Robb Ruhr, CFA®

Head of Portfolio Specialists, North America

Robb leads the Portfolio Specialists team for North America, working closely with several portfolio management and construction teams across Impax Asset Management.

Robb began his career at UBS AG, where he held roles in interest rate and equity trading groups in London and Stamford, CT.  He then moved to GE Asset Management where he was equity portfolio analyst in the listed equity team, an asset allocation analyst for the GE Pension, and finally moving to client service and business development. Prior to joining Impax in 2022, Robb was senior portfolio specialist in the systematic group at Allspring Global Investments (formerly Wells Fargo Asset Management) and was also responsible for representing the systematic investment team on equity and alternative products with investors and consultants globally. 

Robb holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Calgary and is a CFA® charterholder.

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