|By Harry Trott||
|January 23, 2017 10:42 AM EST|
The elevation of Donald Trump to presidency has created a flutter among observers in the energy sector. What would Trump, who has denied climate change in the past, do as the President? According to Barack Obama, there is little that can stop the US, and the world at large, from moving towards a clean energy future.
Writing for the Science journal, Obama argues that evidence suggests that economic growth is already decoupling itself from carbon emissions. Since 2008, the US has seen its emissions fall by 9.5% while the economy itself grew by roughly the same amount. The cost of renewable energy from sources like wind and solar has been plummeting over the past few years - this means, there is little economic incentive for the government or businesses to continue to invest in coal.
Speaking of incentives, he also cites the example of General Motors that was able to save money by reducing emissions. Also, given the commitment of other world leaders to green energy, the US would technically be gifting away the future of energy markets if they were not to invest in new energy sources.
While Obama himself may no longer hold influence when it comes to energy policies, his argument that there is little economic incentive to continue pursuing coal and oil friendly policies is most definitely valid. More importantly, businesses have come to realize that going green does add to the bottomline. Take carbon capture, for instance. This is the process of reducing the carbon dioxide emissions and instead converting them into products like cement or aggregate instead. This added value creates an incentive for businesses to reduce emissions and turn it into a business opportunity instead.
An increasing number of startups like Global Thermostat, CO2 Solutions, Carbon Engineering and Climeworks are now working on carbon capture and storage solutions. But this is not the only area to watch out for. With the prices of renewable energy falling, a number of greenfield projects are looking for sustainable energy sources and this is now being fulfilled by clean energy startups.
Recent studies show that the solar industry is adding jobs at a pace that is ten times faster than the overall economy in the United States. For perspective, the solar industry employs nearly double the number of people as employed in the coal industry. What’s more, there is no sign of slowing down as there is a gradual but definite shift from carbon energy to renewable alternatives.
With emerging economies like India and China too making an aggressive push towards renewable energy, the investments in the sector is only bound to rise from here. In essence, clean energy startups have to two things going for them - the market is just starting to grow and is likely to see immense growth over the next decade. Also, investors have just started seeing the opportunity here and are willing to invest. If you are an aspiring entrepreneur in the energy industry, the time has never been better to launch a startup in the clean energy space.
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