July 5, 2023


Ramez Naam and David Roberts go deep on the future of clean energy: In a wide-ranging conversation, Naam explains why he's optimistic about the energy transition -- and why cows, cement and steel keep him up at night. (Ramez Naam and David Roberts, 5 July 2023, Canary Media)

The world of climatetech and clean energy is maturing faster than almost anyone thought possible even just a few years ago. But futurist, author and investor Ramez Naam was ahead of his time: He was one of the first to forecast the exponential cost declines of clean energy technologies such as solar, batteries and electric vehicles and to predict that clean energy and transport would become cheaper than fossil-fueled versions. In 2021, he founded venture capital firm PlanetaryVC to fund startups focused on everything from clean energy to ag tech. [...]

David Roberts: As long as there has been solar, there have been people forecasting that it's going to stop getting cheaper -- that the cost is going to plateau -- but the reality is that it has just kept going down. Do you think the cost of solar will continue to decrease?

Ramez Naam: Back in 2011, I predicted a tenfold decrease in solar costs by 2050, which happened even faster than expected. Solar and battery technology has evolved from being policy-dependent and expensive to being competitive with and sometimes cheaper than gas and coal.

Looking forward, I think the cost of electricity will drop by another four times by the time solar accounts for about a third of all electricity generation globally. Could this happen twice as fast or half as quickly? Possibly. But the key takeaway is that clean electricity, particularly solar, is becoming increasingly cost-effective.

Solar is the fastest-growing of these technologies, with batteries and wind following. The cost of hydrogen electrolyzers and electric vehicles are also dropping, contributing to the shift towards clean energy. These cost reductions are just the tip of the iceberg, as they don't consider issues like energy intermittency. 

Posted by at July 5, 2023 6:56 AM