Speaker Interview - Swami Venkataraman, Moody's Investors Services

Ahead of speaking at The Battery Show Conference in September, we spoke to Swami Venkataraman, the SVP in the Global Utilities & Infrastructure Finance Group at Moody’s, about his role, the market and what he's looking forward to at this year's conference.

Swami is a member of the Moody’s global Environmental Risk Assessment group and represents Moody’s in the World Economic Forum’s Future of Electricity roundtable. 

Tell us about your role and responsibilities – what do you see as your core focus for the immediate and long-term future?

I am a senior vice president in the Global Utilities & Infrastructure Finance Group at Moody’s, covering utilities, merchant power, gas midstream, and renewable energy companies. I also lead Moody’s global renewable energy task force. The evolution of the electricity sector is likely to remain my core focus for the foreseeable future. Renewable energy, including energy storage, is a big part of this evolution.

Why do you think the storage market is still struggling to grow in the US? Can regulation help further?

I think the dynamics are very similar to that of solar power and that there is likely to be an exponential increase in demand as prices continue to fall. Regulatory support such as the procurement mandate in CA can indeed spur growth and economies of scale. But other regulatory factors such as the FERC rules in terms of how storage is treated as a transmission asset are also likely to be important. But demand for storage is also very much driven by growth in electric vehicles, which currently seems more driven by state support in areas such as charging stations.

Which innovations do you see as the future of energy storage/battery technology?

I think the primary driver will be steady improvements in energy density over time and sharp declines in costs rather than major technology breakthroughs.

What kind of cooperation is needed between storage solar and automotive to drive electrification in the United States? What are the current barriers?

I think they can even be seen independently. The demand for electric cars is influenced more by price, availability of charging stations, and range anxiety than it is about the ability to combine rooftop solar with electric vehicles. In the electric sector, grid-connected storage and storage aggregation by companies like STEM are likely to account for the vast majority of storage capacity rather than batteries installed at homes using rooftop solar.

What are you most looking forward to at The Battery Show 2017?

Understanding the various business models employed by storage developers for the power sector.

You can see Swami's talk at 2.05pm on September 12th at The Battery Show. 

For a full list of speakers, click here.