Time to call it: Carbon Crash, Solar Dawn

Another observer gets it that green solar power is winning. Letting a fracking deliver company turn us into “stakeholders” in a white elephant methane pipeline would be an even huger waste after the pipeline stopped being used in a decade or so because sun, wind, and water power everything by then, winning like the Internet did.

Paul Gilding wrote on his blog 19 March 2013, Carbon Crash Solar Dawn,

I think it’s time to call it. Renewables and associated storage, transport and digital technologies are so rapidly disrupting whole industries’ business models they are pushing the fossil fuel industry towards inevitable collapse.

Some of you will struggle with that statement. Most people accept the idea that fossil fuels are all powerful — that the industry controls governments and it will take many decades to force them out of our economy. Fortunately, the fossil fuel industry suffers the same delusion.

In fact, probably the main benefit of the US shale gas and oil “revolution” is that it’s keeping the fossil fuel industry and it’s cheer squad distracted while renewables, electric cars and associated technologies build the momentum needed to make their takeover unstoppable — even by the most powerful industry in the world.

Why are the fossil fuel companies still pushing, then? Profit, obviously. Also, like horse-drawn buggy manufacturers of the turn of the 19th to the 20th century, they can’t imagine a world without them.

How could they miss something so profound? One thing I’ve learnt from decades inside boardrooms, is that, by and large, oil, coal and gas companies live in an analytical bubble, deluded about their immortality and firm in their beliefs that “renewables are decades away from competing” and “we are so cheap and dominant the economy depends on us” and “change will come, but not on my watch”. Dream on boys.

How many times have we heard Southern Company CEO Tom Fanning say,

I’ve always estimated kind of maybe by 2018 or so maybe 20, by the end of this decade, we could see distributed generation becoming a more widespread manner, economic and beneficial to our customers.

Or Georgia Power CEO Paul Bowers say,

“Renewable (energy sources are) going to have a sliver,” Bowers said of fuels to create electricity. “Is it going to be 2 or 4 percent? That’s yet to be determined. Economics will drive that. But you always remember (that renewable energy is) an intermittent resource. It’s not one you can depend on 100 percent of the time.”

Yet they both have all the evidence that “the importance of the change in the franchise”, as Fanning calls it, it not going to be “sometime in the future”: it’s already here, no matter what they do.

They can get out in front and lead, which Southern Company with its largest U.S. private R&D operation is uniquely positioned to do, or they can be left to fall in the “death spiral” of utilities, as Liam Denning called it in the Wall Street Journal last December, and as Stephen Lacey elaborated in Greentech Media 4 March 2014.

Back to Paul Gilder:

Their delusion however, is good news for the world. If the industry really understood what was happening, it would pull out all stops to prevent it. While they’d ultimately fail, it would cost us decades of lost time — decades we can’t afford if we are to stabilise society and reduce the risk of collapse.

Maybe good news for the world, but that shale gas “revolution” wants to take our lands to pipe its fracked gas through our fragile karst limestone aquifer drinking water, and we need to stop that.

Back to Paul Gilder:

And all this brings increasing recognition by investors that the carbon bubble and stranded assets are serious financial risks, which in turn reinforces the growing power of NGO campaigns against coal and CSG along with their fossil fuel divestment campaign. Then of course there is the role of climate policy which, given the threat to civilisation, seems like it might gain traction at some point!

So, as I see it, the game is up for fossil fuels. Their decline is well underway and it won’t be a gentle one.

The sun is rising on the southeast, the country, and the world. It’s time to banish the Spectra of fossil fuels past.

Divest VSU. And divest Alabama, Georgia, and Florida of a useless, hazardous, and property-taking fracked methane pipeline before it even starts.