Economics Driving the Clean Energy Revolution

The fossil fuel era, one of the principal drivers of the industrial revolution, is gradually giving way to a new energy future, one in which less energy is needed and what is needed is generated from renewable sources. Donald Trump notwithstanding, this transition is well under way, and will only accelerate in coming years, as humanity seeks cleaner sources of energy and a more harmonious relationship with nature. With the cost of renewables coming down dramatically, and the recognition of carbon pollution as a global waste management problem, more and more capital is being directed into the transition, whether it’s being invested in new solar capacity or in conservation or energy storage.

A 2016 Bloomberg report found that at least $11.4 trillion will be invested in new power-generating capacity over the next 25 years, and 60 percent of that will fund wind and solar power. And that’s just the power-generating capacity; overall, the UN estimates that $90 trillion will need to be invested in the next 15 years to meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and the promises made in the Paris Agreement.

These are seemingly staggering numbers; the entire world economic output in 2015 was about $73 trillion. But they are also a measure one of the most profitable opportunities in the history of the planet. What we’re talking about is essentially a wholesale conversion from dirty energy to clean energy, from toxic waste to the circular economy, and the recapture of carbon from the atmosphere and the oceans in order to restore soil fertility and feed a world of ten or eleven billion people a healthier diet than most of us consume today.

It seems pretty clear that this is the direction we’re headed in. One of the things we’ve been doing a lot lately is looking at the present from the vantage-point of the future: what things will our descendants appreciate us for (assuming that we have averted catastrophe and they are living healthy and productive lives), and what things will they wish we had done differently. Through this lens it seems pretty obvious that anything that makes the planet a healthier and more bountiful ecosphere will be valued, and anything that impoverishes it overall for the short-term benefit of a few individuals or a single generation will seem despicable.

Closer to home, we have the opportunity to make a real difference in the energy consumption and carbon emissions of commercial buildings in our state, and potentially elsewhere as well. For the past five years we’ve championed PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) as a new financing method that can help transform our built environment in New Jersey. (For more information, please visit In the process, we’ve also developed alternative “regenerative financing” techniques that may provide some of what PACE offers wherever PACE is not available—and these techniques can be used anywhere in the country. Our task now is to identify suitable capital providers to meet this opportunity. If this is of interest to you, check out

And if you want to get a sense of what we’re all about overall, head on over to, where we’re busy consolidating our multiple initiatives under a single overarching concept — building the future we want and know is possible, that represents humanity’s greatest potential, that of expressing fully the extraordinary universe of which we are an inextricable part.


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