The Clean Energy Disruption

Nearly 100 million barrels of oil are used around the world daily. At the end of 2014, fossil fuels accounted for 85% of world energy consumption. If we flicked a switch to change from fossil fuels to renewables overnight, there would be world panic. However, make no mistake that the clean energy disruption is coming.

Disruption usually destroys the wealth of the current market leaders, but disruption also creates new wealth. There are examples of disrupted industries all around us, and we have included a few below.

  • Netflix disrupting video rental chains such as Blockbuster.
  • Digital photography disrupting camera film makers such as Kodak.
  • Apple disrupting the “dumb” or “feature” phone makers such as Nokia.

When it comes to the energy industry, there are three technologies that we feel will severely disrupt our current energy mix by 2030. These technologies are:

  1. Solar Panels
  2. Electric Vehicles
  3. Autonomous Cars

Each of these technologies are disruptive in their own right. When combined, these technologies are exponentially more disruptive to the current global energy order.

Solar Panels. The adoption of solar panels has been doubling every two years since 1990. The key advantage of rooftop solar panels is that there is essentially no cost of transmission. It is estimated that between 2019 and 2022, the cost of solar power globally (panels + battery) should be less than the cost of transmission.

Can this really happen? To see a proof of this concept, we need to look no further than Australia. In Australia, there are currently 1.5 million households with solar energy – that’s roughly 25% of the population. Electricity from solar panels in Australia is cheaper than the cost of transmission of normal electricity – even if the solar panels are unsubsidized.

Electric Vehicles. Roughly 45% of oil consumed in the United States is used in personal vehicles. If electric vehicles replace gasoline cars, our oil usage will drop dramatically. In our opinion, the transition to electric vehicles is inevitable. Most major car manufacturers have electric vehicles on their product roadmap, and we should see a significant shift to electric vehicles by 2020.

On the luxury end of the spectrum, you have relatively new companies such as Tesla and Lucid Motors leading the way. Meanwhile, established brands such as BMW, Mercedes, and Audi have started pushing into the electric luxury vehicle space.

Clean Energy Revolution

Tesla Model S / Image Credit:

Clean Energy Revolution

Lucid Air / Image Credit:

On the entry level end of the spectrum, companies such as GM are introducing reliable electric choices such as the Chevrolet Bolt EV. It is important to remember that the electricity to power these vehicles have to come from clean sources for this disruption to work, and that it why solar power generation is such an important piece of the equation.

Clean Energy Revolution

Chevrolet Bolt EV / Image Credit:

Autonomous Cars. This technology has the potential to transform how we design our cities. In LA, 60% of the landmass is parking and roads, and 80% of that could become obsolete with self-driving cars and the resulting redesigned city layout. However, autonomous cars have many obstacles to overcome before people will trust it.

Clean Energy Revolution

Autonomous Car / Image Credit:

Based on the trends of the three technologies mentioned above, we are confident that the clean energy disruption will continue to gain momentum over the next few years.

Comments (2)

  1. Reply Nigel Wakefield

    The single biggest disruptive technology of the next 10-15 years, in my opinion, will be electricity storage, particularly in the static (i.e. non-automotive) environment. Storage will change global electricity markets completely and destroy existing business models. Storage is the great enabler for distributed and intermittent power generation.

    Obviously there are synergies between static electricity storage and the Electric Vehicle market. Arguably it was the investment in Lithium-Ion technology for EVs that kick-started the static storage market, but I think it will be the static storage market that will prove to be the biggest boon for EVs. R&D investment, technological advance, and economies of scale will all be enabled by the huge demand for static storage.

    This will ultimately benefit the EV market; reducing the cost of the battery packs required to run them and thereby reducing the price gap between EVs and conventional petrol/diesel engined vehicles, and giving a mass-market home (in cheap residential electricity storage applications) for “second life” batteries that no longer have the power to drive a vehicle.

    Energy storage is THE key disruptive technology of our day – the one to look out for in the future will be energy conversion (electricity to liquid fuels); that would change everything…..

  2. Reply Solar Consultant

    Thank you for the insight, and we definitely agree that electricity storage (and residential batteries) in particular will be a disruptive technology as well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.