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Liebreich: "The smoke is clearing from the energy sector’s equivalent of the Battle of Borodino"

2 min. read

Recently, we heard Bloomberg New Energy Finance CEO Michael Liebreich deliver a fascinating "TED-style" talk at the U.S. Department of Energy's "Energy All-Stars" event. At that event, Liebreich argued that the difficulties of the past few years in cleantech are resolving themselves, that the underlying economics of renewable energy are strong, and that in coming years "we're going to win."

Now, Liebreich has elaborated in writing on his thoughts at the "Energy All-Stars" forum. A few key points are worth emphasizing.

  • Liebreich compares the past year in clean energy to the bloody Battle of Borodino, "immortalised by Leo Tolstoy in his epic novel War and Peace" - with the "battlefield...littered with dead clean energy companies, and more will die of their wounds in the coming months."
  • Despite this, Liebreich believes that the underlying "drivers propelling the world to a cleaner energy system are, like Russia’s resources in fighting against Napoleon’s invasion, almost limitless."
  • Liebreich predicts that in 2013, "clean energy investment [will] end the year up from last year’s levels," with the possibility that "investment in 2013 will be around 2011’s record of $302.3bn."
  • With regard to the natural gas fracking boom in the United States, Liebreich believes that "2013 should be the year when the US recovers from its infatuation with shale gas, moving into a rather more mature and nuanced relationship."
  • Liebreich sees one of the most exciting developments in clean energy as the growth in financial innovation in the sector, including "the first disclosed instance of some truly innovative approaches to funding using low-cost capital, most likely in the form of asset-backed securitisations and/or solar real estate investment trusts (S-REITs)."
  • Solar investment "should beat last year’s levels by a small margin, with rapid growth in places like China, Africa, and Latin America driving growth beyond "reliance on a couple of big European markets."
  • As for wind power, Liebreich sees the market taking "time to recover in 2013," followed by "better times ahead in terms of installations in 2014 and beyond."

All in all, Liebreich remains bullish on the medium- and long-term prospects for clean energy growth. In his words, "after a bruising few years the forces of clean energy will spend 2013 regrouping, re-equipping and consolidating their positions," followed by a "very positive phase for the clean energy sector" in years to come. At Scaling Green, we certainly like the sound of that forecast!