The 2020s could see the end of fossil fuel cars and coal in the West – A chat with Jigar Shah, a Climate Giant

Jigar is a bit of a hero of mine. In 2003 he started Sun Edison, which grew to 7,300 employees & changed the status quo of the solar industry. He achieved this by introducing a new financing system known as a ‘PPAs’ (or ‘Power Purchase Agreements’) that allowed home owners to install solar on their roof without paying anything up-front.

From 2009 to 2012 Jigar was CEO of the Carbon War Room, a global organisation founded by Richard Branson, he’s the author of Creating Climate Wealth: Unlocking the Impact Economy, and he’s now the Founder of Generate Capital – a business that has invested over $1bn into sustainable energy, waste, water and transportation projects.

He’s also been a host on the Energy Gang, a podcast that I’ve been listening to for years.

Jigar’s is a voice that gives you an amazing view behind the scenes into the rise of renewable energy, the turbulent paths of oil & gas majors as they battle for their future, and the progress of everything from electric cars to heat pumps (see more below).

Jigar and I caught up on a zoom call today and at the end of the call I asked if I could pose a question about the coming decade to share with friends and family.

Here are Jigar’s thoughts…

Jigar, would you like to introduce yourself?

“Basically, I’m a guy who stumbled on PPAs back in the early days of solar power, and started a company called Sun Edison to help accelerate the market for solar.

Now, I spend my time running Generate Capital where we apply this and other financing methods to all areas of renewable energy, clean technology and sustainable projects.”

If we put ourselves 10 years into the future and look back at the decade of the 2020s, what do you think the main positive changes will have been from a climate perspective?

“Well, firstly I think it’s possible that we’ll see the ban of petrol and diesel cars in large parts of the world. It’s already being talked about in countries like the US, the UK and others in Europe and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if we see these plans brought forward into the 2020s. The current situation is giving the world a glimpse of what life can be like with cleaner air and less noise pollution from vehicles and this could mean Governments feel more confident bringing these bans forward.

Secondly, I think we may pretty much see the end of coal in the western world. Over the last 10 years coal use has been declining quickly as a source of power generation. Countries have seen that coal can be reduced significantly without any negative impacts on electricity supply, so I expect to see coal decline to almost nothing in large parts of the world.

And finally, I think we could see a big change to the way we heat our homes and businesses. Look, as we enter a period of depression, not recession, the current situation of pumping cash into the economy to support people who furloughed or unemployed is not going to be feasible – and people won’t want to be forced to do nothing in return for this support. Governments may think “well, if we’re already paying salaries then let’s find things for people to do“, and start to look at ways to build a more sustainable system by creating work for people. And what better opportunity than to train some people to replace our heating systems that rely on fossil fuels with heat pumps and electric heating systems in homes across the country?”

Excellent, Thank you Jigar.

This article was written by Charlie Cook | Founder of Rightcharge (www.rightcharge.co.uk) | charlie.cook@rightcharge.co.uk

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