Buffett’s Big Appetite For Solar Power

Warren Buffet - Solar Power

Warren Buffet’s Hungry For Solar – Coal, Not So Much | Image : Public Domain

Multi-billionaire Warren Buffett is looking to splash more cash on wind energy and solar power projects – billions of dollars he says. As for coal, he’s less than bullish.

Speaking at Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholders meeting on the weekend, the business magnate’s appetite for renewables appears to be growing reports CNBC.

“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,” said Mr. Buffett. “The more there is the better.”

With regard to coal’s outlook:

“If you’re tied to coal, then you’ve got problems,” he said.

This statement was made even though Mr. Buffett has some skin in the coal game, with Berkshire’s Burlington Northern Railroad getting a significant chunk of revenue (now decreasing) from carrying coal.

Berkshire Hathaway Inc., led by Mr. Buffett, is an American multinational conglomerate with its fingers in a lot of pies and has a reputation for being insanely profitable. It’s rather plain website certainly doesn’t accurately reflect the leviathan’s nature.

One of its (many) business interests is Berkshire Hathaway Energy, which sources 39% of its owned and contracted generating capacity from renewable energy and non-carbon sources.

It owns approximately 6,200 megawatts of wind generation capacity, two hydro facilities and more than a dozen facilities across the USA that harness or produce geothermal power.

With regard to solar power, the company says it has 1,300 megawatts of solar capacity in operation, which account for 4% of the U.S. solar market. Among the facilities in its portfolio is the Topaz Solar Farm;  a 550-megawatts clean power station in San Luis Obispo County, California that features nine millions solar panels.

In 2013, another Berkshire Hathaway company, MidAmerican Energy Holding Co., agreed to pay around $US2.5 billion for SunPower’s Antelope Valley Solar Projects.

In a 2015 communication to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, Mr. Buffett said the company had so far invested nearly $16 billion in renewables and at that time, owned 7% of wind power generation and 6% of solar electricity generation in the U.S.

Mr. Buffett’s ongoing optimism for renewables investment in the USA, even in the era of Trump, is certainly encouraging – and may quiet some of the cynicism leveled against him during the Obama years.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

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