Billionaire investor and philanthropist Warren Buffett recently spoke at the Edison Electric Institute’s annual convention. His disciples might have been looking for investment wisdom, but what stood out to me was Buffett's commitment to renewable energy. He clearly sees a big opportunity there. His company, Berkshire Hathaway, which owns a few power utilities in the US and UK, has for many years been making big investments in wind and solar power.
Apparently, that's not stopping. If anything, these green investments are accelerating, with Mr. Buffett saying that he wants to double the $15 billion that has been invested in that area so far.
It was just at the end of last year that Buffett's company made the largest land-based wind-power purchase ever.
It's quite clear that clean power is becoming a good investment, in good part thanks to falling costs: Since 2009, the price of wind turbines has fallen 26%, which brings the purely financial cost of wind power within 5.5% of the cost of electricity from coal, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. But we know that the true cost of coal isn't just the monetary cost of the power plant and the fuel. There are also big environmental costs, from air pollution to screwing up with our planet's climate and soil and water contamination issues both at the coal mine and at the location where fly ash is stored after the coal has been burned (remember the TVA coal ash spill a few years ago?).
He has also invested in many big solardeals, like 'Agua Caliente' project in Arizona.
Warren is not the only Buffett doing green things. His son Howard Buffett has been funding anti-poaching efforts in Tanzania!