Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Five books about renewable energy

Juliet Davenport is chief executive of Good Energy, the UK's only 100% renewable electricity supplier.

With Daisy Banks at The Browser, Davenport discussed five books about "good energy"--having a practical interaction with climate change--including:
Too Big to Fail
by Andrew Ross Sorkin

Your next book, Too Big to Fail by Andrew Ross Sorkin, has got you thinking about how the bankers could fit in with all this.

I wanted to read this book because I didn’t really understand how the global economy managed to get into the current mess. Suddenly the banking system was collapsing and everyone was talking about sub-prime mortgages. And it was fascinating to read this story of greed, egos and disregard for process. There were all these stops and checks to stop things like this happening but the key players had dismissed them all, which was amazing. It was so arrogant.

So where do Wall Street bankers fit in with clean energy and climate change?

One of the things that is really important to any business is that you need to get money from somewhere to do it. The insight I got was that the money markets seem to be happy to implement some very high-risk strategies if they think they can make huge amounts of money – and they did on paper for many years. And actually we need huge amounts of money to be able to deliver the renewable targets that we are talking about. So it got me thinking, what are the issues within banking, who do they talk about, what do they think and might they be interested in us as a market?

Were you trying to get into their minds to persuade them to invest in you?

It was partly that, but it is also about how we frame renewable energy in a way that can be an alternative to the sub-prime market. I am not suggesting that anybody would want to repeat the risks that were taken there, but obviously people were happy to take a certain amount of risk. What we need to do is to persuade bankers that renewables isn’t a high-risk strategy, and it was interesting reading the book to see what the methods for doing that were.

Do you think renewables could be lucrative for bankers as a market?

Definitely. Renewable energy is fascinating because it is a very long-term asset. At the moment pension funds can either buy property, which isn’t doing very well right now, or invest in equities, which isn’t a very good bet either. So I think that maybe they should be investing in renewable energy projects, which will happen in the future out of necessity.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue