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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Strategic CSR - Alternative energy

The article in the url below makes the case that, during a time when the market for fossil fuels has been suffering, the market for renewable energy has been exploding (in a good way):
"While two years of crashing prices for oil, natural gas, and coal triggered dramatic downsizing in those industries, renewables have been thriving. Clean energy investment broke new records in 2015 and is now seeing twice as much global funding as fossil fuels."
The article draws on 6 different charts to illustrate its main point, that the reason for the ongoing success of alternative energy is the huge efficiencies that have been created within the industry:
"Government subsidies have helped wind and solar get a foothold in global power markets, but economies of scale are the true driver of falling prices: The cost of solar power has fallen to 1/150th of its level in the 1970s, while the total amount of installed solar has soared 115,000-fold."
The reason I wanted to forward this article, however, is because it contains one of the most enlightening points I have seen in terms of the debate around renewable energy:
"The reason solar-power generation will increasingly dominate: It's a technology, not a fuel. As such, efficiency increases and prices fall as time goes on. What's more, the price of batteries to store solar power when the sun isn't shining is falling in a similarly stunning arc."
Thinking of alternative energy in terms of technological innovation conjures up Moore's Law, with rapid and continued performance stimulated by the creative juices of capitalism. Rather than something to be extracted from the Earth, alternative energies are discoveries waiting to happen. This would also explain why a company like Tesla, which is operating in an old, traditional industry, can draw the kind of consumer excitement that is reminiscent of Apple's best product launches.
Take care
David Chandler & Bill Werther
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Wind and Solar are Crushing Fossil Fuels
By Tom Randall
April 6, 2016
Bloomberg Businessweek