‘INFLECTION POINT’: Renewables will be the ‘cheapest form of new power generation’ by 2020

Renewable energy sources, like solar and wind, are quickly becoming as cheap-even cheaper-than their carbon-intensive counterparts like coal.

New research from Morgan Stanley estimates that renewables will be the cheapest source of power in the world in less than three years.

“Numerous key markets recently reached an inflection point where renewables have become the cheapest form of new power generation,” the bank said in a note.

“A dynamic we see spreading to nearly every country we cover by 2020. The price of solar panels has fallen 50% in less than two years (2016-17).”

Even if President Trump succeeds in withdrawing the US from the 2015 Paris climate agreement, the country could still cut more emissions than it had previously pledged to alongside 194 other countries.

“For example, notwithstanding President Trump’s stated intention to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement, we expect the US to exceed the Paris commitment of a 26-28% reduction in US 2005-level carbon emissions by 2025,” the bank said.

What’s behind the sudden drop in renewable costs?

Wind turbine blade lengths have increased dramatically in recent years thanks to stronger materials and design. Even a small lengthening of the windmill blades can increase output exponentially, as the “swept area” is a function of the square of the turbine’s radius. Remember that high school geometry?

On the solar front, Morgan Stanley says there has been oversupply of solar panels, which is pushing production prices down. Solar installation grew 50% last year, but capacity is still 28% above installations.

The bank sees two possible benefits (beyond helping the environment) for utility companies that invest in low-cost renewables:

“First, the ability to lower customer bills from utilizing low-cost renewables can improve utilities’ regulatory environment and provide related investment opportunities in grid modernization initiatives,” writes the bank.

“Second, for utilities with large, competitive renewable development businesses, investment in renewable energy projects can generate attractive risk-adjusted returns.”

Source: businessinsider.my; 8 July 2017

Three game changers for energy

New sources, mobility, and industry fragmentation are set to disrupt the system.

Change is afoot in the energy system. Soaring demand in emerging markets, new energy sources, and the likely growth of electric vehicles (EVs) are just some of the elements disrupting the status quo. It is hard to discern how the aftershocks will affect the extraordinarily complex network of sectors and stakeholders. New research by McKinsey and the World Economic Forum has identified the game changers for companies and policy makers, as well as their implications.

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Source: mckinsey.com; April 2017

3 Trends on YouTube That Prove Gaming Culture Isn’t So Niche

Whether you’ve noticed it or not, gaming is deeply ingrained in pop culture today: Game tunes are showing up in electronic music, workout classes are getting “gamified,” and Hollywood is rolling out the red carpet for movies about games like “Ready Player One.”

Gaming has gone mainstream—so much so that, according to gaming trends analyst Newzoo, it’s one of the most-watched content categories on YouTube today.1

This presents a big opportunity for brands, game-related or not. Gamers are a highly engaged and influential audience on YouTube. But what are they tuning into? What is gaming content all about?

You may think gaming content is niche, but it’s not that different from other content people are watching on YouTube—like competitive sports, how-to, and unboxing videos.

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Source: thinkwithgoogle.com; June 2017

Lead with emotion, not demographic stereotypes: Forrester

Among a multitude of myths debunked by a Forrester analyst at CXNYC 2017, easy or automated experiences were proven not to be a method of instilling consumer loyalty.

Many executives believe that the easier a customer experience will be, the more likely a customer will be to return and become a loyal customer. However, during the June 21 session, “Love Machines: Emotion In A Digital World,” the analyst showed that those who have interacted with an actual associate who made their experience special, rather than a self-serve kiosk that was easy, produced a greater number of customers likely to be loyal.

“Companies are in this race to automate” said Anjali Lai, senior data analyst at Forrester, Boston. “The direction where the industry is going is to remove the human interaction and make experiences easy.

“But if we look at the intensity or quality of emotions, we see an interesting pattern,” she said. “Consumer effort can generate strong loyalty-inducing emotion.”

Debunking the myths
More than half of customers who interact with a real human feel satisfied, meaning they feel value or appreciated. These factors allude to a loyal customer.

However, those leveraging automated services simply feel happy or pleased with their experience. This means they were happy with their easy experience but it did not leave a lasting impression.

Another major myth debunked by the Forrester executive was the belief that women make more emotion-based decisions than man, but the research’s firms studies has shown this is not the case. Women and men are both equal in their emotional-based decision making.

The notion of this was also corroborated through social channels, in which both men and women expressed their emotions for a brand experience.

For younger and older demographics, those that were revealed as emotional buyers contrasted popular belief. The connotation in the past was that younger consumers made purchases based on emotion with the brand and valued experience.

However, older consumers were less likely to be unaffected by a brand experience and more likely to feel positive emotions after a good brand interaction compared to younger consumers who mostly remained unaffected.

Marketers should focus more on catering to the emotions of buyers rather than their gender or age.

In an example of how marketers can personalize in a physical space, Louis XIII de Rémy Martin created a setting for consumers to explore its history and experience its cognac with the opening of its first boutique.

Housed in the upscale Beijing SKP mall, Louis XIII’s storefront is seen as an opportunity to meet clients face-to-face, offering them bespoke services and experiences that go beyond cognac. Even with many luxury brands moving online, marketers are still finding value in the traditional bricks-and-mortar store.

LOUIS XIII Boutique _ SKP Beijing by Masao Nishikawa Photography Studio Co (PRNewsFoto/LOUIS XIII COGNAC)

Louis XIII boutique in Beijing SKP

Similarly, Italian furniture maker Poltrona Frau focused on the stories that happen around its designs in a series that zoomed in on one realistic home for an emotional connection.

Told in four parts, “Home Stories” weaved anecdotes about different members of one family, using its pieces as a set rather than the main character. Poltrona Frau made a conscious decision to make the home featured appear lived in and relatable, creating aspiration for its furniture in an environment that does not appear too staged or magazine-perfect.

Poltrona-Frau-Home-Stories-465

Image from Poltrona Frau’s “Home Stories”

Technology takeover
Another common misconception is that technology is creating a void in human interaction. But those that interacted with a technology tool versus a human associate felt the same number of emotions.

Technology can be used to create the same feeling as human emotion through AI and various forms of technological advances.

“There is a pervasive anxiety or sensitivity that technology is taking the place of human interaction and stunting our emotional growth,” Forrester’s Ms. Lai said. “But that is not necessarily the case, and doesn’t have to be the case.

“When consumers are interacting with a brand, the number of times they feel a certain way about a brand is parallel through a self-service tool and interacting with a live person,” she said. “What does this mean?

“Instead of thinking of technology as an enemy or a barrier, you can use this to your advantage. You can leverage technology to forge a more personal human interaction with your consumers.”

Source: luxurydaily.com; 22 June 2017