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The Low Carbon Energy Revolution – Solving the Management and Culture Challenge Begins with EQ

Low carbon energy transition This is the second of five posts that focus on the challenges and solutions of the low carbon energy transition. (See first post here.)

The management and culture challenge may be the most important factor to work through before accelerating diversification and transition efforts, according to industry leaders who are driving the energy transition.low carbon energy, decarbonization

Corporate culture is often defined as the collection of shared values, visions, customs, traditions and internal goals that contribute to a company’s uniqueness. Consciously or unconsciously formed by business owners or founders, corporate culture issues can inspire or impede the success of team efforts to reach company goals.

With something as significant as moving from an established fossil fuel company to a low carbon energy business, the basic challenge is how to make fundamental internal changes that will accommodate the new business model in a demanding, highly ambiguous market environment. It’s essentially an entrepreneurial startup with a large number of tenured employees.

Success stories of corporate innovation and incubation in this kind of environment are as rare as a certain mythical rainbow-riding flying horse.

The Harvard Business Review has called it a “two culture problem.” Revenue from existing operations carry the company, which is supported by long term, hardwired organizational systems. The company’s operations are well tuned, there is a referable market history to guide decisions and management goals for stability, efficiency, and consistent incremental growth.

New innovative business groups tend to form cultures on an ad hoc basis that are wholly different from the main company. There is usually no input or forethought into culture creation; the focus is on the product offering and getting it to market. Innovators and risk takers are often hired from outside the company, bringing in a culture that supports operating models that are entrepreneurial at the core. Existing employees transferred into this group will have difficulty adapting this new operating environment, which often ends up in chaos.

That chaos, according to Home Depot CEO Robert Nardelli, happens because “there’s only a fine line between entrepreneurship and insubordination.” Depending on your vantage point, what looks like innovation flies in the face of established corporate convention.

Emotional Intelligence Diminishes the Two-Culture Problem

According to Amy Steindler, an emotional intelligence coach for corporations and executives, and President of EQ Insights, emotional intelligence training and coaching are at the heart of successful corporate incubation of a new innovative group. Her perspective on the need for emotional intelligence at the executive and cultural levels for a successful low carbon energy transition comprises the remainder of this post.

Two decades of academic research, much of it found here, suggests that emotional intelligence may be the differentiator between sustainable outperformance and mediocre results, assuming cognitive intelligence (IQ) and industry and technical knowledge are up to speed.

The low carbon transition executives who emerge as industry leaders will be those who recognize the two-culture problem and embrace emotional intelligence as the bridge to change management and to balancing dual cultures operating under the same roof.

Just as emotional intelligence has a role in change management at the team level, it also serves as the foundational skill set for “managing up.”  Executives must engage corporate board members in adopting a significant business model revision while skillfully managing the challenging work of cultural change.  This balancing act will take a measure of emotional intelligence all by itself.  The good news is that as they make the business case for long-term profitability that results from retaining top talent with demonstrable emotional intelligence skills, they will have the support of rigorous academic research and in-depth case studies.

Emotions Provide Essential Data for Integrating Innovative Teams

Executive management has historically had an aversion to the “soft skills” side of emotional intelligence—mindfulness, self-awareness, appropriate emotional expression, empathy and optimism—claiming that they aren’t directly measurable on the balance sheet for which they feel responsible.  This perspective misses a crucial understanding of the role of emotional intelligence in the workplace.

Emotions are data, and the data points that come from practicing emotional intelligence skills are critical elements for success in two key areas: decision-making and stress management.

Neuroscience has shown that “rational” decisions are actually emotional ones.  Even after we’ve gathered every bit of analytical data available, we ultimately solve problems based on preferences.  In other words, we don’t make decisions based strictly on the data.  We make decisions based on how we feel about the data.  Faced with two equally rational choices, we pick the one we feel better about.  Without the ability to tap into our emotional data set, which includes acknowledging our true risk tolerance, and our response to mistakes, we are unable to choose among logically sound alternatives, a syndrome known as “analysis paralysis.”

For an innovation team working with little or no market history or data, decision-making relies on their ability to manage intuitive and emotional data sets.  Understanding which data are relevant requires application of specific emotional intelligence skills that govern reality testing, impulse control, and intuitive problem-solving.

Emotional intelligence skills also underlie an organization’s ability to consistently manage healthy responses to the unpredictable and unavoidable fallout that comes from rapid or continuous change.  New divisions are hotbeds of ambiguity, insecurity, and the inevitable trial-and-error mistake making.  No matter how much leaders know about their industry, they won’t be able to realize their strategic vision without a team that functions well under stress. That stress is amplified in the low carbon energy era, because while the regulatory environment is highly uncertain, market drivers still require that companies make significant long-term decisions now, before a complete set of regulations are in place.

For well-established companies attempting the transition to 21st (and 22nd) century sustainable energy production, hiring experienced executives who also model emotional intelligence (and who make the resources available for ongoing assessments, training, and reinforcement) is the key to long-term success.  Existing executive teams who have become successful without a focus on emotional intelligence or mindful leadership will have to make a choice—experience the discomfort of learning a new paradigm of leadership or lose their competitive edge.

Established industry leaders who exist right now in a comfort zone they’ve earned over decades of hard work may find that innovation has given way to a prosperous status quo that they’re reluctant to tinker with.

Success in the low carbon energy transition will require executive teams to intentionally normalize discomfort in order to spark innovation and demonstrate the flexibility, responsiveness, social responsibility and inspiration necessary to engage millennial and subsequent generations.

Effective transition leaders will recognize that the workforce and emerging leadership of the next several decades respond enthusiastically to leadership they perceive to be handling the pace of change with authenticity, transparency and accessibility.

A Metaphor for Putting Employees FirstLow carbon energy

The transition from fossil fuel-based energy to low carbon sources is a metaphor of modernization that goes beyond production of energy.  Energy producers will have to take into account information that they can’t un-know: just as fossil fuel energy production is not sustainable, neither are the management models that served to build the industry decades ago.  The next generation of workers has witnessed the costs of overwork and burnout by observing their predecessors’ quality of life, and they’re not buying into it.  They’re willing to work, but they’re not willing to sacrifice the most productive years of their lives by working for companies that don’t put social responsibility and the well-being of their employees first.

How can executives lead the cultural transition?  By creating a permanent culture of mindfulness-based emotional intelligence, ongoing training, and skillful coaching.  By using the appropriate tools to assess every team member’s emotional intelligence profile, and to understand which combinations of skills are the best predictors of success for a given role on a given team.  By engaging an experienced coach or consultant to model these skills and to guide them in developing their own.  By committing to change management practices that are inclusive and flexible enough to withstand the constant adjustments to new information as it arises.

The executives who will rise to the top as leaders of the low carbon energy transition are the ones who are willing to commit to fresh thinking, curiosity, and the present moment mindfulness that are the hallmarks of innovation and future-focused sustainability.

 

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The Low Carbon Energy Revolution – Challenges and Solutions for the Transition

The most rapid and radical change in energy production and use in history is underway. Market signals for low carbon energy generation are abundant, if not definitive, and every sector including power generation, transport, buildings, industry and agriculture are in transition. Driving this transition is the consistently lowering cost of renewable energy technology, and the imperative to lower and eventually zero-out carbon altogether to meet the goals of the Paris Accords.

According to the International Energy Agency, “Limiting the global mean temperature rise to below 2°C with a probability of 66% would require an energy transition of exceptional scope, depth and speed. Energy-related CO2 emissions would need to peak before 2020 and fall by more than 70% from today’s levels by 2050. The share of fossil fuels in primary energy demand would halve between 2014 and 2050 while the share of low-carbon sources, including renewables, nuclear and fossil fuel with carbon capture and storage (CCS), would more than triple worldwide to comprise 70% of energy demand in 2050.”

Deemed the “The Low Carbon Law,” carbon emissions will need to decrease by half every decade until 2040. That transition timeline requires

essential and intertwined changes in regulatory policies, infrastructure, technologies and fuels, markets and institutions, all happening concurrently. The transition is either evolutionary or revolutionary with a high degree of disorder depending on your vantage point.

With competing clean technologies riding the steep cost decrease slope, the energy transition is happening quickly and extemporarily, as the ship lacks any semblance of a rudder. Ambiguity is high and increasing, and the stakes could not be higher or less clear for incumbent market leaders.

The lack of regulatory frameworks in particular puts market participants, particularly fossil fuel related companies in a high-risk dilemma – jump now, assuming the regulation will come, continue with current products that may become stranded assets in the near future or adopt some middle-of-the-road strategy.

A mining company that recently engaged me to guide them in low carbon transition strategies illustrates this ambiguity vividly. The company has IP and extensive capabilities that may be transferable to solar, hydrogen, storage and high frequency data communications among others. Determining the new models and technologies to pursue, when to jump, and what the near-term consequences are, both economic and culturally, comprise the strategic and tactical questions we are working through the “ambiguity fog”. Fighting the business as usual momentum concurrently is a daily part the effort. Balancing these opposing forces in the company is the key to a successful transition and diversification effort.

This is the first of four posts looking at the following challenges facing oil & gas, mining, electric utilities, and their support supply chain partners as they look at potential strategies for the energy transition. Each post will feature an industry leader working in the field of the challenge examined.

The Challenges

  1. Management & Culture – By what method do you establish a new culture that rewards risk taking, innovation, and learning completely new ways to operate? Can leadership adapt and change to lead the transition in an entrepreneurial manner while integrating the effort into 50+ years of successfully managing an entirely monolithic company and product?

2. New Business Model Risk – What is the winning model for a given company, considering their historical core expertise, technical capability, intellectual property and market reach? As with a startup, it can be catastrophic to go down a particular path only to find it’s not the right strategy.

3. Margin Parity – How do you match the relatively high margins enjoyed in the oil & gas industry, for example, compared to lower margins (at this point in market development) in renewables? How do you launch a new low carbon offering with accretive profits from day one rather than sustaining losses which impact earnings in each quarter, triggering investor anxiety?

4. Timing – How quickly is a particular market transitioning? What if the launch is too early or too late? With quarterly pressure to produce, will the investor community be support the effort?

Regulatory Risk lurks in the background and is present in all the above challenges. For example, lack of a common mechanism for C02 value creates price confusion as subsidies for the fossil fuel industry are still highly out of balance with the renewable sector. Erosion of regulatory certainty, where a newly established requirement is abruptly changed, is still fresh in the memory banks  (e.g. Spain’s retroactive withdrawal of renewable energy subsidies for granted and operating generation facilities).

The Culture and Management Imperative

The first of four follow-on posts will focus on the Management & Culture challenge which has been described by some industry leaders driving the energy transition as the most important factor to work through before accelerating any diversification and transition effort.

Amy Steindler, an emotional intelligence coach for corporations and executives, and President of EQ Insights, will illuminate how emotional intelligence training and coaching are at the heart of successful corporate incubation of a new innovative group.

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Right After Coal, Is Natural Gas Flaming Out?

Great piece here from Danny Kennedy with compelling observations. The pace of disruption from renewable energy (ex: wind+storage $21 MWh) and the low carbon imperative, first coal and potentially now gas, is exactly why the incumbent fossil fuel and associated industries may need to start acting sooner than later and thread the needle from legacy business models to new low carbon products and services.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Originally published on Greenbiz: The End of Natural Gas?

Amidst the madness of 2017, a bigger shift was missed than probably any other — right at the commanding heights of the economy: Natural gas fizzled out of the plan for the future.

That’s major.

Natural gas is no longer a contender or pretender, just a relic of the past, likely to fall as far and as fast as Old King Coal, and maybe faster. This has repercussions for the economy of many states and nations, and the politics of the transition in terms of what we ask for and what we will get.

Here’s what I’m thinking:

The big signal that got some coverage in the pink pages (FT) and energy-wonk trade press in November was the closure of Siemens and GE’s gas turbine-making capacities. Just to recap for those that missed it, first Siemens, the giant European champion of the electric power revolution, laid off 7,000 workers. It reported that it had a capacity to make 400 100MW gas turbines annually but only had received orders for 110 in 2017. Ouch. Retrain!

And then GE: Two weeks later, it laid off 20,000 workers in its gas-related business, including turbine-making teams around the world. Remember, just about five years ago Siemens and GE battled for the gas business of Alstom, the French descendent of the same companies GE came out of in the early 20th century. GE paid $10 billion for it and declared a coup.

But now, they’re writing it off. Their strategic choices under Jeff Immelt are being questioned by the market: while the Dow is up about 30 percent over the past 12 months, GE’s stock is down about 45 percent. (Indeed, GE won the “honor” of being the Dow Jones Industrials worst-performing stock of 2017.)

If we can build large-scale storage that can do all the functions of a fast-ramping gas turbine in less than six months for less money, there will be no market for gas turbines peaking services.

What’s significant is the timing of these announcements. Is it a coincidence that they happened as South Australia was turning on a 100-megawatt battery that had been built in just 100 days by Tesla and a consortium? If the reality is that we can build large-scale storage that can do all the functions of a fast-ramping gas turbine at, say, 100MW scale, and we can build it in less than six months (gas peakers would take six years) for less money, then I think there will be no market for gas turbines to provide peaking services.

It’s pretty binary. And I think Siemens and GE know it.

That is not to say they will not sell any turbines. Or that someone else won’t try (although I am not sure who). The point is, the world’s best companies at making gas turbines are starting to get out of that business. And what Tesla and friends did in South Australia is about to become commonplace. Storage is cheap enough to build at these scales, and the more it is built the cheaper it will become. No wonder Siemens is working with Gamesa on making hot-rock storage as a competitive technology — so it doesn’t get completely left behind by batteries.

But that’s not all.

Heavy blows

A few other heavy blows were dealt to natural gas over the past few months. In November, the Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund, derived from hydrocarbon riches and one of the world’s largest pools of capital, proposed to stop investing in oil and gas. In December, the World Bank announced it also will swear off financing of upstream oil and gas projects, albeit not until 2019. That means key money taps for the industry are closing. Norway’s are the kind of trillions you need to develop new gas fields, and the World Bank’s catalytic billion-scale capacity is oft needed to get such flows going. Alas, they will be no longer.

But what about customers?

Here in California, we’ve had some pretty strong signals from key buyers in the world’s sixth-largest economy that it wants to get off natural gas. Stanford University — an innovation economy bellwether — swore off its gas contracts in an effort to electrify everything and experiment in climate solutions at scale. The city around it, Palo Alto, then decided to wean its public utility and people off gas. It can get solar power for less money and is rebating citizens to swap out gas heaters and stoves with electric appliances. A sign of things to come.

Probably more important is the California Public Utilities Commission and the California Energy Commission — the two agencies pretty much designing and approving the state’s energy assets — saying they no longer need natural gas in their toolkit. (The California ISO agrees.) This came in the context of hearings around a particularly offensive gas peaker plant called Puente in Southern California — especially after the politically disastrous Aliso Canyon gas leak of 2015-16 and the deadly San Bruno gas explosion before that, in 2010.

It is a consensus that must send shivers up the spine of long-term gas sellers. Aside from being a big market for gas (even since the gas guys screwed the state with the energy crisis of 2000-01), California is often a driver of things to come. When it comes to energy, as goes California, so goes the nation and often the world. When California claimed it basically would get off coal 20 years ago, it was poo-pooed and parodied. It has taken until this year to get completely off the black-rock power supply fully — but, lo and behold, the rest of the world is pretty much following suit.A fully renewable energy supply and the electrification of everything is the emerging plan in California, wherein electric vehicles are a distributed asset and thermal power is dying.

And it will with natural gas. A fully renewable energy supply and the electrification of everything is the emerging plan in California, wherein electric vehicles are a distributed asset and thermal power is dying.

Of course, many will read this and doubt or decry it. And by no means am I saying it is definitive. There are some contraindications. More gas pipeline projects kicked off in the fracking fields of America this year than this screed would suggest. But those were likely committed to in 2015 or before. I’d imagine that investors today are worried about them becoming stranded assets. I think the evidence around fracking-well depletion rates and leakage rates has become clear: Natural gas is not a climate solution.

A bridge fuel to nowhere.

Beginning of the end

When we know what we know about flaring and lifecycle global warming potential, I think it is intellectually dishonest to keep pretending gas is better than oil or coal. It is not. But what this turn of the market — the reality that it is no longer essential in the electricity grids of California and beyond, and that no one is buying it when they can buy storage of electricity itself for less — allows, is for us to abandon the bridge-fuel nonsense.

For now, simply know this: 2017 was the beginning of the end for gas.

A little over two years ago, David Hochschild, a California Energy Commissioner, and I published an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle declaring “the end of coal is near.” At the time, the article was the subject of some vitriol and ridicule but it largely has been borne out.

Of course, we were not alone (nor am I now) on willing the end of the natural gas industry. But I think it’s important to reflect that in 2017, for all its other problems in the clean-energy industry and our nation more broadly, the gas industry became, if not dead, at least a dead man walking.

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Where Wind Farms Meet Coal County . . . . . Jobs Are Crucial But At What Cost?

As Upton Sinclair wrote, “’It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” When your livelihood depends on fossil fuel, the political, economic and environmental externalities often hold no interest. This well written and informative piece from the New York Times about competing energy types in Wyoming’s Converse County illustrates vividly this point and the energy sector job conundrum.

Health costs and fatalities caused by coal burning power plants are a seldom-identified externality in the energy jobs discussion. While coal jobs are crucial to the families in the article, nowhere is there any mention about families downwind from coal plants who experience appalling health problems.  Long term studies from the EPA and other peer- reviewed papers show that coal burning kills 15,000 people per year in the U.S. while the coal industry employs only 55,000. Not an acceptable ratio. The cost to treat illnesses from coal burning in the US exceeds 10% of our total health care costs of $3 trillion per year and equals up to 6% of GDP.

Do we need a peer reviewed energy ratio model that can be cited by journalists which states X number of energy job types creates X number of deaths and healthcare costs?

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Diversification Into Renewable Energy Chronicles – How About Now?

solar, renewable energy diversification

Source: U.S. DOE

This was the first of a series from my blog in 2016 on the need for major fossil fuel, electric utilities and other entities diversification into renewables and the “electrify everything” energy transition. Quickly curtailing climate change demands low carbon energy generation.

In my opinion, the incumbent brown fuel and their associated industries are a key part of rapidly achieving a low carbon future. But the challenges are daunting – timing of transition while satisfying investors, new business model risk, margin parity, and cultural changes to name a few.

The most immediate question is whether the low carbon energy transition is happening now and quickly across the globe or will mirror complete transition as with the oil industry. As an example, ” . . . renewables are growing around three times faster (20 per cent a year versus 7 per cent for oil and gas) than in previous energy transitions at a comparable stage.” Trusted Sources report. 

Given the scientific imperative that supports the Paris agreements goals of a near complete low carbon transition of energy, transportation, agriculture and industry by 2050, the mechanics may already be in gear without direct regulatory guidance.

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To secure our future, we must create it. Now.

< Thank you for taking the time to read and then forwarding then broadly forwarding via email & social media >

Dear Friends,

On November 13, 2017 more than 16,500 scientists from 184 countries published a second warning to humanity, an urgent report with a short 2 page summary and 7 graphs illustrating the key indicators. The acceleration of decline in our planet’s main life sustaining systems is clear. We are at the point of no return on 6 of the indicators.

Climate change is at the heart of many of these degrading earth systems. Extreme heat, wildfires, rain deluges, increases in destructive storm frequency, and flooding due to rising sea levels (8” in the last 100 years, accelerating 2X in the last 20 years) are some of the immediate symptoms.

Will we as individuals allow earth’s systems to rapidly decay without immediate and sustained action?

“As most political leaders respond to pressure, scientists, media influencers, and lay citizens must insist that their governments take immediate action as a moral imperative to current and future generations of human and other life. With a groundswell of organized grassroots efforts, dogged opposition can be overcome and political leaders compelled to do the right thing. It is also time to re-examine and change our individual behaviors…” —World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice 

 We are all living our day to day lives, working, raising families, and hoping to raise our standard of living.  It’s easy to hope that our leaders around the world will solve this problem. They will not.

 It comes down to our active participation and personal responsibility—each of us must contribute to the solution for this very solvable but dire challenge. 

Globally, we have the technology, the proven business models and the economic resources to stop or reverse the damage.  Timely, consistent leadership must come from individual citizens to push governments and corporations to act, and that time is now. 

I’m asking you to do 4 things:

1. Read the attached 2-page warning summary to humanity and then forward this email to your entire network. 

2. Take personal responsibility daily.  Go to  www.timetochoose.com for an extensive list of simple changes to your lifestyle, and view the movie that will inspire you to act.

3. View the Climate Reality Change website for grassroots tools, communication templates and suggestions to equip you to spread the word in your local community.

4. Contact your local, state, and federal representatives now and relay the urgency.  Find contact information for elected representatives from local, state and federal levels, at https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials.

I know, we are all busy and this is one more ask of your valuable time. 

But nothing else matters if we do not have sustaining life systems on earth. 

Please join me now and every day to be part of solving this critical issue to secure our near term and multigenerational future for all species.

Thank you.

Dave P. Buemi

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On Hiatus from Blogging Until January 2018

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How ISOs and RTOs can create a more nimble, robust bulk electricity system and accelerate renewable energy.

Its no secret that the limiting factor for renewable energy growth is the lack of robust and coordinated transmission and the tools to control intermittency. This ISO/RTO Council report is probably the best update on the subject available. A great read and well worth time.

From the executive summary:

“. . . . specifically, the task force seeks to identify where technological deployment intersects with operational and policy considerations. This report is the culmination of that effort.

Source: ISO.RTO Council

In the course of developing this report, three key priorities emerged as imperatives to continuously ensure the reliability and efficiency of the

Bulk Electric System as the penetration of emerging technologies continue to expand. Those identified priorities are as follows:

1. Renewable supply and integration: Many breakthroughs are being made in individual technologies such as renewable generation, grid-scale energy storage and microgrids, for example. However, is there enough innovative activity happening cohesively to integrate all of these disparate components into the overall electricity system?

2. Greater situational awareness: Several technological options are presenting themselves, but are they being exploited to their maximum potential and will they be enough to maintain adequate awareness over a changing system?

3. Controlling an increasingly distributed electricity system: As Distributed Energy Resources (DER)3 increasingly connect to the distribution system, their aggregate impact on the bulk electricity system4 is already evident. To what extent should operation of DERs be ‘controlled’ or influenced by the bulk system operator and what should that relationship look like? What technologies will best assist that framework.”

As this report demonstrates, we have the technology and the knowledge to speed this clean energy transition but we need the political will. It’s time for leadership at all levels to embrace what it is the greatest economic and environmental opportunity of our lifetime.

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Great Illustrated Ecological Overshoot Video

The most pressing problem for global civilization, ecological overshoot is simply explained in this short, well done piece from Alex Magnin.

Source: http://sustainabilityillustrated.com 

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Poll: 75 percent of Trump voters want to accelerate the growth of clean energy

A survey by Public Opinion Strategies, a national Republican political and public affairs research firm with its roots in political campaigns, yet again not only illustrates how broad based support is for clean & renewable energy but also the issue by issue disconnects. A good piece here on the survey and the survey itself found here.

 

trump voters clean energy

Source: Public Opinion Strategies, LLC

 

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Fact Checking the Election Claims on Renewable Energy Economics

Of all the events I’ve attended in my 20 years in the solar industry, I will always remember the renewable energy finance conference I attended in 2012 where the major investment banks, pension funds, and project finance entities gave one presentation after another stating they treat wind and solar as any other energy generation asset class when looking at returns and risk. This was a major turning point for the renewables industry, as finance is the heartbeat of the rapidly expanding industry.

Consider the following facts: renewable energy industry growth is >30% YOY on average reaching $30B in 2016, renewables are the largest

http://www.roperld.com/personal/roperldavid.htm

http://www.roperld.com/personal/roperldavid.htm

generator of jobs in the U.S. in the last 4 years and it’s by far the largest sector of new electricity generation for the last 4 years. Since that conference, my phone has been ringing repeatedly, and weekly, with calls from the finance community looking for projects to purchase. Demand for projects far outstrips supply. The rate of return and the low risk profiles are that good.

So it amazes me that our new president and other elected officials can stand in front of the country and claim over and over that wind and solar power does not “pay off in less than 18 years”. Clearly Wall Street and other finance entities do not put capital work into a near USD $1 trillion global industry that are not producing solid, predictable long term returns. (See: global renewable energy investment market to exceed USD 350 billion by 2020) Of course when confronted with actual facts, the conversation go right to the specious argument that taxpayer funded subsidies makes renewable energy projects possible. Anyone that knows me knows my rant on this topic: the fossil fuel industry has 10X more embedded and ongoing subsidies than renewables.

The renewable energy industry has done remarkable work in bringing solar and wind to compete with a highly subsidized fossil fuel industry to a point that it’s now less costly than coal and on par with natural gas derived energy. The investment opportunity has never been better.

An excellent fact book on the U.S. sustainable energy transformation can be found at the bi-partisan Business Council for Sustainable Energy.

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Solar and Wind Manufacturing is Thriving in the USA. Why Don’t Mainstream Reporters Know?

At a time when facts are ignored for expediency of a view point, the fact that renewables are creating more jobs than any other sector needs to be highlighted to the new White House and corrected when junk economics are claimed.

Published on LinkedIn , Co-Founder at Generate Capital, Inc.

Like many Americans, I am an avid listeneus-renewable-energy-manufacturingr to American Public Media’s Marketplace show. The show bills itself as “the most widely heard program on business and the economy — radio or television, commercial or public broadcasting — in the country. That popularity can also be a problem when journalists on the show discuss something they don’t understand.Earlier this month, Marketplace had a weekly roundup on the economy, focusing on manufacturing jobs because of emphasis provided on this topic by both of the presidential campaigns. The guests were John Carney of the Wall Street Journal and Catherine Rampell from the Washington Post.

At the third minute, Rampell weighs in on whether clean energy jobs would really help laid-off manufacturing workers. At 4:30, Carney shows his complete ignorance and claims that clean energy jobs are “science fiction.”

I know that Marketplace knows better. Scott Tong does excellent clean energy reporting for the show on a regular basis.

Let’s set the record straight since Rampell and Carney clearly couldn’t do a basic Google search.

The solar industry alone has created one out of every 80 jobs in the United States since the great recession. When including wind, LED lighting, and other clean energy categories, that number could be close to one in 33.

For the solar industry, a majority of these new employment opportunities are blue collar construction and manufacturing jobs that pay an average of $21 per hour — far higher than the $16 per hour non-union manufacturing jobs that South Carolina was touting later in that episode.

Amazingly, even Kai Ryssdal got into the bashing by questioning if clean energy could make a dent in hiring laid off manufacturing and mining workers.

In fact, the solar industry has hired more veterans than anyone elseretrained coal workers, and even provided a soft landing for oil and gas workers who have lost their jobs. The vast majority of solar and wind workers are trained in less than six months because their previous work experience and training is completely transferrable.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, wind technician is the fastest growing job category — expanding twice as much as the next-fastest growing job, occupational therapy assistant.

In 2015, the manufacturing arms of the solar and wind industries employed tens of thousands of people making pieces and parts in the United States. This is up by 20,000 people over 2014. In fact, this number is expected to continue to grow at that pace for the next five years.

How does an amazing show like Marketplace get these things so wrong? How do folks from the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal not know that solar and wind power now make up over 75 percent of new electric capacity additions in the United States — representing over $70 billion in new capital investment in 2016 alone. In so doing, these industries are generating substantial fees for investment banks, lawyers, accountants, and often advertising dollars for their newspapers and radio shows.

My sense is that these folks want to run as far away from environmentalists as possible. Clean energy in the United States has been defined by earnest environmentalists who, to their credit, embraced it wholeheartedly. But to our collective detriment, they spun an ideological, naïve story divorced from the reality of the energy economy transformation actually taking shape around us.

The result is that clean energy is mistakenly seen as a passive and precious solution for a future society — a delicate sunflower waving in the face of a muscular coal miner or a pristine field of green and sky of blue set against a dirt mound penetrated by a fracking rig. It feels more Utopian than aspirational, more luxury than necessity.

In short, it doesn’t feel American.

American is can-do, right-now, yes ma’am. Luckily, the actual transformation of the energy economy is as American as the Hoover Dam or the interstate highways, and even more earth-shaking. If only the discussion among politicians, media, business leaders, and the American public reflected that reality.

Unfortunately, the clean energy conversation is profoundly and unnecessarily polarizing. Like climate change itself, it’s become part of a larger culture war that fits neatly into the media’s predictable tendency of false equivalence, pitting workers against activists, businessmen against academics, and common sense against idealism. As a result, according to recent surveys, public sentiment about the urgency of action to prevent climate change is split along party lines between “let’s do something!” and “meh.”

The energy might be clean, but the work and the jobs are as rooted in dirt, sweat, and back-breaking labor as any American endeavor, and even more lasting.

We need to change the conversation to align with the deep emotional and aspirational narratives that speak to the American public. Clean energy could feel as all-American, cutting-edge, rugged, reliable, resilient, and tough as fracking. The same American ideals of independence, freedom, self-sufficiency, and opportunity can bring together green advocates and Tea Party stalwarts, labor and entrepreneursmain street and Wall Street.

Independence is the heart of American identity. Clean energy is independence turned into electrons: the application of cunning, sweat, and ingenuity to harness the restless power of the American landscape.

The American energy economy is changing, and changing rapidly. Clean energy and energy efficiency is where the growth is happening. We can move of millions people from coal mining, low-tech manufacturing, and even oil and gas into good paying jobs that don’t negatively impact the health of people and the planet.

By rebranding clean energy, we can empower all Americans to work together for a stronger future. It’s time to get down and dirty

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