Change best sums up the theme of REFF Wall Street 2016 – and progressive change at that.

The future of energy is looking brighter, as renewables are gaining acceptance as a mainstream power source. But with change comes challenges, which is why the industry’s leaders gathered in New York to discuss at REFF Wall Street 2016. Led by ACCORE’s Greg Westone, energy executives, including Jim Hughes of First Solar, Michael Polsky of Invenergy, Sandy Reisky from Apex Clean Energy and E.ON’s Patrick Woodson, all  joined forces on a panel to provide their perspectives on trends and policies affecting the renewable energy marketplace, financing growth and the state of capital markets.

The panel cited a number of trends that are increasingly accelerating the adoption of renewables – such as lower costs, historical policy wins and surges in advanced technologies. Rising share prices also show evidence, with their momentum pushed by the historic extension of low tax rates. While economics are in favor of renewables with long term inflation numbers, explained Sandy Reisky of Apex, that the side benefits are understated and need to be captured.

The rise of new technologies can also be attributed to such growth. Patrick Woodson of E.ON noted that this is a “phenomenal time for renewables” in the near term, with growth in solar and wind. These next four years are predicted to be peak time for wind power expansion, thanks to the advantage of tax credits. However, with policies such as the ITC extension do expire, panelists expressed concern for future limitations in growth.

That being said, a more permanent tax equity plan for renewable assets is vital, said Reisky. As the industry is now challenging the status quo, with renewables being the insurgents against the utilities, wind and solar need a more ‘permanent seat at the table’ when it comes to financing and structuring. Having the same guidelines in place will allow for the focus on realistic opportunities that were once unattainable.

Michael Polsky of Invenergy agreed, saying that there is a lack of discipline in pricing projects, as it has become a race to the bottom for the lowest number. He explained that the mentality of achieving the lowest price puts the amount of capital available at risk, and that playing with assumptions to get the prices you want is not necessarily good business. What should matter is not who has best cost, but who can deliver the best project. “You cannot build long term value with these types of returns,” Polsky explained. “We need long term success stories.”

Jim Hughes from First Solar pointed out that in solar, value has constantly been created by shorting the cost curve and reverse engineering the price. While today there is no motivation on procurement, if this kind of behavior continues, someone is bound to be burnt. A disciplined financial deployment plan is needed, and can perhaps make the success stories that Polsky described a reality.

Looking ahead, a real and clear line of sight in resource planning will be needed. As more traditional power plants are coming offline, utilities are already preparing themselves for the distributed future, as Polsky pointed out that such utilities are now making this mainstream adoption as part of their larger plans. However, the states that lag in acceptance will be hit the hardest.

While the line of site into the future solar technology is clear, Hughes explained that management at scale is needed to be truly bankable, which could take 5-10 years. Otherwise, the AC aspect of solar will most likely be the biggest industry shift in how storage affects the solar markets. From a wind standpoint “It’s fascinating to see the expansion of wind,“ said Woodson. He also noted that while we talk about the new problems that new technologies bring, they’re good problems to have today than in the last twenty years. Thanks to what Sandy Reisky called an exploding market from a healthy supply chain, Michael Polsky credited the movement and growth in competition as the most exciting aspect of energy market. That being said, the future of renewable financing is indeed looking less cloudy.