ESG Trends for 2024 - Infrastructure and Utilities

Shariq Ansari
March 28, 2024
5 mins to read
On-field worker recording utility meter readings.

The Infrastructure and Utilities sectors are on the cusp of transformative changes, driven by a deepening commitment to Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles. As 2024 unfolds, several key trends are emerging, reflecting the sectors' response to the challenges and opportunities of sustainable development and the energy transition.

1. Accelerating Electrification and Renewable Integration

Electrification is advancing rapidly, with a significant push towards integrating renewable energy sources into the grid. This shift is propelled by ambitious carbon reduction commitments and substantial investments in clean energy projects. The Inflation Reduction Act and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act have catalyzed over $232 billion in clean energy investments, setting a robust pace for the transition towards a low-carbon future​.

2. Expanding Grid Modernization and Resilience

The push for modernizing the electricity grid to accommodate the rising share of renewables, along with growing electrification, is paramount. Investments are funneling into grid reliability and resiliency enhancements, including advanced battery storage capacities, which are essential for managing the variability of renewable energy sources. The expansion of grid-scale battery storage and utility-scale solar installations exemplifies this trend.

3. Embracing Digital Transformation

Utilities are increasingly turning to digital technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), to navigate the complexities of the energy transition. Digital solutions are being leveraged to improve grid management, enhance customer services, and optimize operational efficiencies. This digital shift is integral to addressing the sector's challenges, from ensuring grid stability to fostering innovation.

4. Fostering Sustainability and Decarbonization through M&A

Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are playing a crucial role in accelerating the energy transition, with significant capital flowing into sustainable and renewable energy assets. This trend reflects a strategic shift towards assets aligned with net-zero objectives, highlighting ESG as a key driver of deal-making in the energy, utilities, and resources sectors​.PwC)​.

5. Prioritizing Regulatory Compliance and Incentive Maximization

Legislative changes, including tax incentives and grants from recent acts such as the IRA and IIJA, offer unprecedented opportunities for utilities to fund clean energy projects. Utilities are navigating this new regulatory landscape by prioritizing investments that align with these legislative incentives, thereby accelerating their ESG commitments and contributing to a sustainable energy ecosystem​.

6. Addressing Climate Risks and Enhancing Operational Resilience

Utilities are increasingly focused on mitigating climate risks and enhancing the resilience of their operations against severe weather events and cyber threats. This involves significant investments in infrastructure hardening and adopting cutting-edge technologies to improve system reliability and security​.

7. Decentralization and the Rise of Distributed Energy Resources (DERs)

Decentralization is gaining momentum as utilities increasingly integrate distributed energy resources (DERs) such as rooftop solar, battery storage, and electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure. This shift towards a more distributed energy model not only supports decarbonization efforts but also enhances grid resilience and empowers consumers to play an active role in energy production and management.

8. Emphasis on Water Sustainability in Utility Operations

With climate change exacerbating water scarcity and quality issues, water sustainability is becoming a critical aspect of ESG strategies within the utilities sector. Companies are investing in technologies and practices to reduce water use, improve wastewater treatment, and enhance water infrastructure resilience, reflecting a broader recognition of the interdependencies between water and energy systems.

9. Growth of Green Financing and ESG Investing

Green financing and ESG-focused investing are on the rise, providing vital capital for infrastructure and utility projects aligned with sustainability goals. The sectors are witnessing an increase in green bonds, sustainability-linked loans, and other financial instruments that tie capital costs to ESG performance metrics. This trend not only underscores the financial sector's role in supporting the energy transition but also reflects investors' growing emphasis on sustainability and climate risks.

10. Enhanced Focus on Social and Governance Factors

While environmental considerations continue to dominate the ESG landscape, there is an enhanced focus on social and governance factors, including community engagement, workforce development, diversity and inclusion, and ethical governance practices. Utilities are recognizing that long-term sustainability and resilience require a holistic approach to ESG that encompasses not only environmental stewardship but also social equity and robust governance.


As we advance into 2024, the Infrastructure and Utilities sectors are at a pivotal juncture, with ESG principles guiding strategic decisions and investments. The emphasis on electrification, renewable integration, grid modernization, digital transformation, regulatory compliance, and operational resilience underscores the sectors' commitment to sustainable development and the global energy transition. These trends not only reflect the sectors' response to environmental challenges but also their proactive role in shaping a sustainable future.

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Shariq Ansari
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