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Clean, Affordable Energy: A Dream That’s Getting Some Powerful Wake Up Calls

Max Zuckerberg, recipient of an amazing birth gift, is one lucky girl.  Her parents, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, are setting up the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to solve some of the most intractable social problems we have.

As if that donation weren’t enough, Mr. Zuckerberg has teamed up with a bunch of his very wealthy friends to save the world for Max and her future friends on the environmental front, too. They have put forth enormous sums of money and committed to work together on clean, affordable energy via The Breakthough Energy Coalition.

The Coalition is a who’s who list of smart, high-achievers who will target, invest in, and bring to market innovations in the energy arena.  If anyone can, this group is a pretty good bet for who will deliver on the Coalition’s goal: “a future that produces near zero carbon emissions and provides everyone with affordable, reliable energy.” Clean energy generation and storage are the key focus points for the group.

There’s more.  Lots of global powerhouse companies are helping to make a market (e.g., Google) for affordable renewable energy by buying lots of it (e.g., Dow). The US government has also been stepping up efforts to engage business in clean energy investment, as we’ve reported on here and here. And there have been significant advances in energy storage.

Six years ahead of schedule, the revolution of battery technology seems to be moving at a faster pace than expected. For example, from 2007 to 2011, the costs of batteries, on average, for battery-powered electric vehicles fell by an astounding 14 percent each year, goals not expected to be reached until 2020 by the International Energy Agency. This decline in prices makes cleaner energy, specifically the electric vehicle industry, much more accessible to the public.

It is expected that battery prices should continue to fall, eventually making internal combustion engines less suitable for consumers’ lifestyles, and electric vehicles much more attainable. New factories of Tesla, a leading company in the electric vehicle industry, promise 30 percent cost reduction of their products.

As The Breakthrough Energy Coalition has pinpointed, advancements in battery and clean energy technology create a dynamic pair. They go hand in hand. As battery technology improves and costs decrease, and when the electric-grid that uses these batteries are no longer powered by coal, but instead renewable energy, the gates to an affordable, clean energy future will open.