The Green Economic Revolution has now achieved a historic breakthrough. The International Energy Agency just announced that solar is the cheapest way to generate electricity in the history of mankind!
This economic success is driving solar generation to a 20% annual growth rate as U.S. utilities dramatically shift out of higher cost coal generation. Natural gas (methane) is still the utility industry’s preferred fuel because it fits into their Industrial Age systems. But increasingly, pioneering utilities are gradually rebalancing their supply between methane and solar/battery systems to capture lower costs, zero emissions and more responsive supplies during peak demand time periods.
GM is a telling example of how least cost solar/wind electricity, combined with dramatically falling battery prices, will disrupt business strategies. The company just announced that by 2035 it will cease manufacturing fossil fuel cars, SUVs, and light trucks. To put that into perspective, today GM sells one fully electric vehicle (EV). Its plan is to have 30 new global electric vehicles at every price point by 2025.
Here are three opportunities every business should begin to plan for as solar power becomes the dominant, least cost source of energy in our economy:
Smart Total Electric Buildings
If your business owns a building, then you should explore the economics of onsite solar/battery systems. Unfortunately, too many electric utilities still view the only good electron as a metered electron. But the price for solar/battery systems continues to march toward price levels that even protectionist utilities cannot block.
The building of the future is the Smart Total Electric Building (STEB) that integrates onsite solar, batteries and artificial intelligence. In real time, a STEB will gather and process data at end use building locations and then “smartly” deliver least cost, least pollution and optimized human performance. “Magically,” lights will adjust to human needs, occupant safety will be optimized, comfort levels will adjust to human activity and the cost for energy will be price arbitraged between self-generation and grid purchases while minimizing/eliminating emissions. Because this vision is so close to being a technology reality, now is the time for your business to begin investigating and investing in these technologies.
And if you are in the building industry, now is the time, as GM did with EVs, to begin a strategic shift into a STEB future.
Financing Clean Tech
Today’s low interest rates combined with often available federal, state and even local tax benefits makes clean tech investments a financial no-brainer with one- to five-year paybacks. A growing clean tech commercial financing market exists that is similar to shopping for a mortgage. Investigate to see if your city offers a low-cost PACE program that finances clean tech investments through your property tax payments. Going clean tech should become even more attractive as the Biden Administration implements its strategy for moving America to least cost, zero pollution and job creating clean tech solutions.
Amazon has ordered 100,000 electric delivery trucks. UPS has bought 10,000 electric trucks and is rolling out electric delivery vehicles in Atlanta, Dallas and Los Angeles. The Biden Administration has ordered electrification of the federal vehicle fleet including 225,000 postal delivery trucks. That is good business because EVs cost less over the life of vehicles that have a daily route of 200 miles or less! Recharging an EV costs approximately 75 cents per gasoline gallon equivalent. Businesses that combine investing in solar and EVs can achieve ZERO recharging costs after the solar system is paid off in 12 to 60 months. In addition, EVs cost less to maintain because they do not require oil changes or engine maintenance.
Don’t write EVs off if they don’t pencil out for your business today. Companies like GM will be delivering EV solutions at sticker prices that will be competitive with fossil fueled vehicles with 200-400+ driving ranges and acceleration/torque at the speed of electrons.