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OUR TAKE: Investing in Renewables Means Looking at the Big Picture by ClimateYou Senior Editor George Ropes

An article on the Yahoo Finance Website entitled, “Wind Power to Lift Alternative Energy Space in the Near Term,” looks at research into the alternative energy industry done by Zacks, a stock portfolio management and investment research firm. This article looks at the wind power industry as an investment vehicle. The industry is growing, with 8 consecutive years of $200 billion invested. Since 2004, investment in renewable power has topped $2.9 trillion. Growth should continue to be robust in the short term. Yet if the goal of 100% renewable energy is to be achieved, the article asserts, some 200,000 miles of high voltage transmission lines would be needed to upgrade the grid, adding $700 billion to the cost of transition to renewables, exclusive of material costs.



Not considered is the near-obsolescence of the century-old national grid, which will need upgrading or replacement regardless of progress toward 100% renewable power sources. Nor is the progressive option of burying the grid considered or costed. Such an accounting has to include the costs of power outages caused not just by normal summer and winter weather-caused tree limbs falling on transmission lines, but by broader system failures caused by disastrous storms in 2018 like Harvey on the Texas Coast, or catastrophic damage in the Carolinas by Florence, and Michael, which decimated the Florida panhandle — all with destructive ferocity that is enhanced by climate change.

The alternative energy industry has a relatively low ranking among all industries, according to Zack’s, a respected index, which suggests mediocre long-term profitability. Without knowing more about the basis for the low ranking, it is hard to assess its accuracy. Maybe financial experts see more long-term obstacles to wind power industry growth than does someone well versed on climate change matters.


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