sunset outlook

The Real Value of Eco Power

22 Jun 2017

Justin Urquhart Stewart, Co Founder and Head of Corporate Development

Regarding Trump's twoddle on sustainable power - wake up, you are missing the point.

If nothing else, it is surely a measure of just how out of touch the American President really is. His enthusiasm for fossil fuels and his anti-environmental stance, as perfectly illustrated by him wearing his ‘I dig coal’ baseball cap, is increasingly looking outdated and uneconomic.

Just in terms of new industries, companies and jobs, the ecologically-based renewable fuel industry seems to be fast outstripping the dated and laborious coal mining sector. This year in the UK, we have already had days when either solar or wind power was over 25% of our daily power requirement, and this is only going to increase elsewhere around the globe.

We are already seeing the cost of renewables dropping dramatically. For years we have heard how uneconomical they were and that they could only be justified with significant subsidies from our monthly bills. A Bloomberg report recently highlighted that in the USA, Germany and Australia, unsubsidised solar power costs less than the most recently built (obviously not the dirty old ones) coal power plants.

The reduction in costs of production in the USA has been dramatic, with wind power down by 71% and solar by 83%. Now to be realistic, these are reductions from a much higher starting level, as the industries were being developed.

This a remarkable change and, according to the report, it will in all likelihood be followed by China, India, Britain and even Mexico by 2021. The report also highlights that from the low level of just 5% today, wind and solar will eventually account for 34% of the world's electricity supply. I find that astonishing. All the more reason, therefore, for Trump to realise that he could do far more to benefit the economy of the rust belt in Pennsylvania by investing in new industries for the future, than by trying to maintain an outdated industry which is becoming increasingly expensive to sustain.

I have also found, in many old coal and pit centres, that despite the emotional attachment to this old way of life, the next generation have been delighted to have had the opportunity to go into other industries which are cleaner and far less physically demanding and damaging. In Mansfield, I recall being thoroughly told off by young business people saying that if the pits hadn't closed, a good proportion of them would be down there today. The key of course is to make sure that you have something to replace the coal industry with.

What the President should be doing is preparing to launch a coal industry replacement programme. This would at least give those affected some vision and optimism about what new businesses could offer, rather than leaving them in an ageing and depressing sepia coloured picture of days and industries gone by.

Wake up, Trump, you are missing the point!

Justin Urquhart Stewart
Co Founder and Head of Corporate Development

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