Energy transition is not a flash in the pan event, it is driven by new technology that is causing the older technologies to become obsolete. The age-old maxim that past performance doesn’t guarantee future results is absolutely true here.
Some of the investment is being prodded by consumer demand for greener products and for companies to make a commitment to mitigating climate change. Businesses are answering that call, some sluggishly and some with an apparent enthusiasm to do the right thing. Doing the right thing for climate change is not necessarily a money-losing venture, and companies don’t make any large scale changes without consulting their bottom line.
Energy Transfer, which owns one of the largest energy infrastructure companies in North America, is researching how it can remain relevant in the transition to clean energy. They currently own the franchise that moves oil and gas from wellhead to market centers. It is vital to current energy needs to continue moving fossil fuels, but also needs to look to the future. Transitioning to moving clean energy fuels will allow them to continue operating into the transition and beyond.
ExxonMobile has plans to launch a new business focusing on carbon capture and storage, as well as other low carbon technologies like hydrogen. Their investment is projected to be 3 billion per year through 2021, which is a small portion of their capital spending program. It is a sluggish start, but a start nonetheless.
Bill Gates clean tech fund, Breakthrough Energy Ventures raised another $1 billion to invest in clean energy startups. Like Warren Buffet, he believes that the biggest challenge to investing in solutions that mitigate climate change is that the solutions will take decades to be effective, not years. That means that return on investment is not overnight and requires patience.
Warren Buffet says that investing in infrastructure for renewable energy is key to mitigating climate control. He has invested $15 billion into renewable energy and is ready to invest another 15 billion. In his most recent letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, he says that investment in interstate power infrastructure is absolutely necessary to the transition to clean energy.
One thing that we hopefully have learned about investing in infrastructure with the recent Texas grid blackout is that not investing for infrastructure resilience is bad for business and for consumers. Energy companies are going bankrupt as a result of the outage and the sky-high prices that followed. The price for rescue and cleanup of this magnitude could have been avoided by planning ahead for weather anomalies and investing in the adaptability of power generation.
Texas is a hotspot for wind and solar power, and their low energy costs make it a magnet for companies who want to relocate. But outages of the scale just witnessed puts that all at risk. Investment in clean energy and in grid resilience now is important for Texas. Investment in a resilient grid is important for the entire country.