Governments back green initiatives on alternative energy

The UN climate change conference, COP21, at the end of 2015, represented a turning point, with 195 nations committing to decarbonisation and action on climate change.

This saw a hugely positive shift in the narrative around sustainability. Governments, environmentalists, and a newly incentivised private sector, all celebrated green initiatives as a means of meeting the world’s growing energy needs while still keeping the earth’s temperature down.

The trouble is, according to Per Wimmer in The Green Bubble, we must not conflate good intentions with business acumen or green energy with commercial sustainability. The current mistake is that political leaders and investors have not made these distinctions, causing a ‘green bubble’ to form.

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Alluding to both the South Sea Bubble of 1720 and the Dotcom Bubble, which burst in 2000, Wimmer uses his background as an asset manager and corporate financier to delineate the financial risk and potential reward of alternative energy sources, from solar and wind to natural gas and nuclear.

Unfortunately, Mr Wimmer’s nuclear bias overwhelms the dialogue of the book, glossing over the details of the other alternative energy technologies. This is evident in his discussion of solar energy, which rarely dips beyond the surface and presents a reductive view of the sector.

Sustainable investment and clean energy are integral to a future where the lights are still on. Yet Mr Wimmer seems to favour nuclear power for the sake of controversy, ignoring, for example, the enhanced security of supply benefits that arises from a diverse generation mix.

With this in mind, The Green Bubble provides some insight into the green energy narrative. It presents an interesting view of the subsidy regime and the financials of the green sector. However, for anyone who is looking to fully understand the issues and trade-offs facing the future energy system would do well to read further books on this topic as well as this one.

Andrew Wordsworth is the co-founder of AutoTrip, the supplier of a product that reduces companies’ vehicle mileage costs.