GTM Research rebrands as Wood Mackenzie Power and Renewables

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It was bound to happen some time.

Just as many promising solar companies end up being bought by other energy players – Total’s purchase of SunPower comes to mind – it was inevitable that the clean energy analytics firms would be purchased by larger and more established energy consultancies.

As such, Wood Mackenzie’s July 2016 purchase of Greentech Media follows on IHS buying up IMS Research in 2012 and Solarbuzz in 2014, in a consolidation of analysts which mirrored the narrowing of diversity in solar manufacturing.

But for many of us, there was a question of how long GTM Research – the research half of the company – would remain independent, and how this would affect its mission. This question has significant ramifications for U.S. solar industry data, as GTM Research has for years been the most comprehensive source of information on the U.S. solar industry, with far more granular and thorough data collection – as well as more rapid updates – than the U.S. Department of Energy.

More than one solar professional has expressed a degree of skepticism here, given that Wood Mackenzie’s team’s expertise is in conventional energy. This is not baseless, given that some analysts steeped in the oil, coal and nuclear industries – the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration come to mind – have repeatedly produced forecasts that reinforce the bias of those industries, and which have strayed farther and farther from reality as solar, wind and battery storage rise.

However, it is also important to note that this has not always happened. Many professionals whom pv magazine consults with rely on the research that IHS Markit provides, despite IHS’s historical ties to the oil industry.

In a conversation with pv magazine, MJ Shiao, the company’s global lead in renewables and emerging technology, clarified that the firm will continue to publish its clean energy reports, including the widely cited U.S. Solar Market Insight series, which is published in collaboration with SEIA and serves as the most authoritative source for quarterly U.S. solar market data.

Shioa described the rebranding and merger with Wood Mackenzie’s global team as an expansion of GTM Research’s capabilities, not an abandonment of its mission.

We’ll continue to cover the same markets and same technologies in similar ways. And we’ll now have more mature long-term and deeper views on those markets and how they integrate in power markets more broadly. For example, our U.S. energy storage and solar forecasts will now draw upon WoodMac’s long-term modeling of wholesale markets at the power plant level, giving us a much more robust view on where storage can be the most valuable or how solar and wind penetration will affect long-term power prices.

Shiao also notes that the rebranding reflects the integration of solar and energy storage with power markets as a whole. “As solar, energy storage and grid edge are more intricately linked to power markets and the broader decarbonation and decentralization trends so is our team.”