No matter what a government does, other than using subsidies, the market will ultimately decide on our Energy needs. Having Warren Buffett willing and able to invest billions into new solar and wind projects says it all. Not only that bad he in advising that investments in coal are at present a bad thing.
“we’re ready to do it”
Warren Buffett is looking for investment opportunities in renewable energy. “We have got a big appetite for wind or solar,” Buffett said Saturday at Berkshire Hathaway‘s annual shareholders meeting. “If someone walks in with a solar project tomorrow and it takes a billion dollars or three billion dollars, we’re ready to do it,” he said. “The more there is the better.”
Buffett said Berkshire is in a good position to compete with electric utilties companies since the conglomerate can take better advantage of tax incentives for alternative energy projects.Berkshire Hathaway Energy already sells wind-generated electricity in Iowa. In a March presentation, the firm said captial expenditure forecasts for the next two years have increased $4.6 billion from the prior year, primarily due to wind and solar energy projects.
“If you’re tied to coal, then you’ve got problems”
Earlier during Saturday’s shareholder meeting, Buffett said he expects coal to decline as a percentage of railroad revenues. “If you’re tied to coal, then you’ve got problems,” he said.
Berkshire also owns the Burlington Northern railroad company. Together with Berkshire Hathaway Energy, the two units accounted for a third of Berkshire’s after-tax operating earnings in 2016, according to the latest shareholder letter
Last year Berkshire Hathaway Energy reported to have poured $16 billion into renewables in recent years, according to Buffett. The company’s electricity portfolio now consists of 7 percent wind and 6 percent solar. The company also plans to increase its investments in large-scale renewable energy projects in support of international climate goals. “We’re not done,” wrote Buffett. This is becoming a major part of their investment folio.
Times are changing. When investors like Buffet advises coal, is a risk and renewables are the way to go, the other investors will follow. Despite the President’s revival of coal, the only way coal will survive long term and compete with renewables is to receive government subsidies. Without the backing of the investment community, coal has a limited lifespan.