Zurich-based bank UBS sent a briefing paper to some its clients saying that conventional power plants could become irrelevant within two decades. Instead, they say clean energy could replace them and that means home and business owners may generate their own power, rather than rely on conventional fossil fuel plants.
If it seems dubious that such a force in the conservative banking industry would say such a thing, just take a look at this quote, “Power is no longer something that is exclusively produced by huge, centralised units owned by large utilities. By 2025, everybody will be able to produce and store power. And it will be green and cost competitive, ie, not more expensive or even cheaper than buying power from utilities.”
Their analysis does not stop there, however. They foresee another key aspect for the future of clean energy. Electric vehicles and storage batteries could help store solar produced electricity to help solve the intermittency problem. Solar power can only be produced when sunlight is available, but we all need electricity at night, so new, lower cost batteries and the batteries in EVs might fill the void. Their point is more about the proliferation of EVs helping to drive down the cost of new batteries, but even today some EV drivers sell electricity from the cars back to the grid at night for net metering.
It should be noted again, that their statements are not coming from a left-leaning or progressive, green source. Banks generally stay in business by taking a middle-of-the-road perspective. We see that clearly in one of their more “bombshell” comments, “Battery storage should become financially attractive for family homes when combined with a solar system and an electric vehicle. As a consequence, we expect transformational changes in the utility and auto sectors. By 2020 investing in a home solar system with a 20-year life span, plus some small-scale home battery technology and an electric car, will pay for itself in six to eight years for the average consumer in Germany, Italy, Spain, and much of the rest of Europe.”
In other words, early adopters of clean energy and EVs might do so out of environmental concern, enthusiasm for technology or even somewhat due to the novelty. The UBS report says such consumer investment will have a good return as well.
The old saw that green energy and clean transportation is objectionable because it is unaffordable will no longer apply.
Image Credit: Avinash Kaushik