(photo credit: courtesty)
As renewable technologies continue to become more efficient and affordable,
industries and entrepreneurs will inevitably switch to cleaner fuel sources –
even if not for environmental reasons, Shai Agassi said Wednesday.
founder and former CEO of the now bankrupt Better Place spoke at the Israeli
Presidential Conference 2013 in Jerusalem on the panel “Is There Hope for a
“We will see a continuous installation of solar panels, just
because it will be cheaper, not because it will be cleaner,” Agassi said and
then presented what he felt was the new energy blueprint for the
Although understanding and promoting technological innovation in
the future will remain important, equally crucial will be understanding the
business side of the industry, he explained. A combination of innovation and
business savvy will by default make for a greener future – simply because the
option will be more profitable, Agassi said.
Both solar panels and
electric car batteries are seeing dramatic gains in efficiency, and the future
ability to drive electric vehicles with batteries powered by solar panels will
reduce the need to import expensive and uncertain oil sources, according to
Agassi. While an electric car battery costs approximately $500 per kilowatt-hour
in capacity, he predicted that by 2020, the price would be reduced to $100 per
kilowatt-hour in capacity. Therefore, to drive one kilometer would cost only one
cent based on electric vehicle fueling, he claimed.
In response, however,
industry experts expressed significant doubts about Agassi’s
Nonetheless, Agassi maintained that the world will become
“inevitably green” simply because the world is “profit-driven in
While the government must tax solar energy production, if it
does so in a manner that is too much, too soon, it could end up killing the
domestic supply and importing instead, Agassi warned.
“The question for
Israel is only one – will we let today’s interest drive policy or will we let
innovation lead the way and become exporters of this innovation to the rest of
the world?” he asked.
Although agreeing with Agassi in principal that
innovation and meticulous business models are part of the solution for a greener
future, Prof. Ernesto Zadillo said he did not think that “getting to the right
place is inevitable.”
“We don’t have the right policies to price carbon,
to tax carbon emissions,” said Zadillo, who was the 54th president of Mexico and
currently serves as director of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization.
“Then your business model will take too long to be a viable model. If we don’t
have the right incentives, then innovation will be slower or even
Agreeing with Zadillo’s comments, Agassi suggested that a possible
global solution could be to create a “menu of innovation” according to which
every country must proceed with – countries that implement more innovation will
receive more credit against their carbon emissions than others.
response with that is good luck... ” said Etharin Cousin, executive director of
the United Nations World Food Program.
In Cousin’s opinion, a critical
piece toward achieving a “green tomorrow” will be an overhaul of the global
approach to sustainability, particularly focusing on revamping the “entire value
chain” of the agricultural system.
“We need to ensure that we build the
agricultural system in those systems that will support the opportunity to
provide availability and access to all people,” she said.
be instrumental in this overhaul, as it is necessary to increase the quantity
and quality of small farmer yields, introduce farming methods that require less
water and decrease damage to land and soil, Cousin continued. Before even
introducing any of these more advanced agricultural methods into many countries,
however, the governments will first have to work on providing better
infrastructure and support, she added.
“Challenging a development model,
which for centuries depended on natural resources and the idea that environment
didn’t matter, requires deep-seated change that cannot evolve over night,” said
Prince Albert Grimaldi II of Monaco.
“Right now scientists are innovating
for the new world we need to create. They must be able to depend on us for this