Bloomberg NEF’s Jenny Chase still has unpopular opinions about solar


Bloomberg NEF’s head solar analyst Jenny Chase tweets out her 2020 list of unpopular opinions on solar — and lands some clear shots on industry foibles (“suboptimal” rooftop designs) and unrealized opportunities (smart home technologies).

Chase is head solar analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, and over the past three years, her annual, irreverent unpopular opinions have been a must-read for anyone looking for the kind of incisive, unexpurgated insights one rarely gets from top industry analysts.

Recently posted on @solar_chase, the 2020 thread clocks in at close to 40 tweets, including “minor updates” from last year’s list, such as the agrivoltaics tweet.

About a third of the list is made up of acerbic reruns from previous years, which will likely still raise hackles. Chase is merciless on what she sees as the solar industry’s engrained foibles —

But the chief value here are the changes, which generally focus on key trends and technologies driving the industry. One example, Chase updates her views on utility-scale energy storage, which last year was “likely to have more of a role” and is now “a massive thing, everywhere.”

She is particularly bullish on decarbonization. In previous years, Chase had pegged getting to 50% to 70% renewables as relatively easy. Now, she says:

The 2020 list also underlines the critical role of the grid and oversized projects in getting to those higher penetrations of renewables, backed up with what will likely be some of her more unpopular opinions on curtailment and project orientation.

Not new but noteworthy

Largely unchanged, Chase’s views on nuclear (safer than coal or climate change) also run counter to conventional thinking, and her take on the main value for hydrogen may be even more provocative now than when it first appeared in 2019.

Similarly, Chase’s tweets on the residential and commercial solar markets pose a challenge for the industry. The lack of updates here signals that developers and installers may not be adapting to market shifts or leveraging new technology as well as they might.

She still thinks that most rooftop systems are designed “suboptimally” and that banking on retail-rate net metering is a losing proposition. Self-consumption rates will be “the most important financial parameter for rooftop solar,” as will time-of-use rates.

And, as Chase has been saying for three years, we still need a better market design.

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