Creating Climate Wealth: The Biggest Economic Opportunity of the Century
By Bill Moore
Two-part Skype video interview with SunEdison founder Jigar Shah about his new book, 'Creating Climate Wealth: Unlocking the Impact Economy.'
I've known Jigar Shah for more than a decade. I've slept on his futon in New York City and in he and his wife's spare bedroom in Washington, D.C. We've had countless conversations about electric vehicles and renewable energy, as well as the perennially precarious financial state of EV World. I even took his photo holding BusinessWeek magazine the week it reported Goldman Sachs' unprecedented $60 million investment in his now wildly successful start-up, SunEdison.
He's worked for BP Solar - to whom he tried,unsuccessfuly, to sell the idea for SunEdison - and for the world's pre-imminent serial entrepreneur, Sir Richard Branson.
Now he's partnered with a Canadian group to invest in companies that have innovative business models and not just innovative products. In Shah's mind, we don't necessarily need new technology. What we need more immediately is breakthrough business models like the one he pioneered with SunEdison. There he used the financial leverage of Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) to secure financing for 'no-money-down' large-scale commercial photovoltaic systems. One of his first clients was Staples, the big box office supply retailer (one of SunEdison's early installations is depicted in the masthead photo on this article).
SunEdison's PPA model, along with innovative Feed-In Tariffs (FITs) developed in Germany and popularizes across Europe, have catapulted what was an expensive niche market powering orbiting satellites and remote emergency telephones into one of the fastest growing energy production technologies on the planet, one that is rapidly converging in competitiveness with fossil fuel-based energy systems.
This is the underlying theme of his new book, 'Creating Climate Wealth: Unlocking the Impact Economy.' It weaves together his efforts to launch SunEdison along with the insights he garnered while the director of the Carbon War Room, founded by Virgin Group mogul Richard Branson. CWR's core principle is that smart policy can be used to catalyze the forces of capitalism to address environmental problems besieging the planet. Figure out how you and investors can make money out of solving a problem and watch what happens, is the thesis.
Case in point: California's ZEV credits system is now helping drive the sales of Tesla and Nissan electric cars.
In this two-part Skype video interview, I talk with Jigar about his experiences as an entrepreneur and how they influenced the writing of 'Creating Climate Wealth.' Besides the need for innovative business models - and he's developing a workshop on the how to do that - he also believes we need to be passionate about changing how we do things, his own passion coming out especially in part two.
Launched just last week, Creating Climate Wealth already has sold some 1,500 copies, many being bought as multi-book orders for business incubators and by investors. You can order the book either through the ClimateWealth.co web site or online at Amazon.
Originally published: 07 Oct 2013
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