Stock talk for the main street investor.

Don’t Underestimate The Engineers

As an alternative energy investor I read a lot of naysayer commentary about how it’s just a pipe dream or “magic” as Fortune pointed out this week. After all, we’ve been in this position before. During the 1970s there were similar cries for energy independence and talk of technologies like solar power were all the rage. Then oil got cheap, policies changed and investment stopped.

The challenges many point out are certainly true. Electric cars run on lithium batteries, which is mined in places like South Africa and Afghanistan, not exactly home grown. Wind won’t produce enough power to replace coal. Solar has a long way to go before replacing more traditional electric sources and must be turned into some other energy source to be transferred around the country/globe.

But this is where the bimbos on Wall Street and the non-technical writers get it wrong. True we don’t have a solution today. True we won’t have a solution tomorrow. But there are thousands of people smarter than you and I working on technologies we will count as givens when the energy revolution is complete. What that technology is I don’t have any idea (but I think it involves hydrogen). What I do know is I would rather put my energy future in the hands of engineers and scientists than oil companies, Wall Street and politicians. Aren’t they the ones who will create a true energy revolution?

This process will take time. It took over 100 years to get where we are with oil. But the groundswell is building faster than you think. 0.5% of our electricity capacity was added by wind turbines each of the last two years. Solar should count for similar numbers in the next five years. By then we may be replacing 3-4% of our “dirty” electricity with “clean” electricity each year. The move to replace oil will take longer but once manufacturing ramps up, costs go down and alternatives look even more attractive.

I’ve made my bets. Who do you believe will win in the end?

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