Warren Buffett's $30 Billion Wager on Clean Energy Is One of His Safest Bets Yet

The Oracle of Omaha just casually upped his investment in clean energy to about the size of the entire nation of Latvia's GDP.

Jun 10 2014, 8:30pm
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The so-called "most successful investor of the 20th century" says he's about to pump another $15 billion into renewable energy, effectively doubling his clean power portfolio to $30 billion. But Warren Buffett's investment is far from being another high stakes roll of the dice. It's not a wild bet—it's a safe one.

The announcement comes from Edison Electric Institute's annual convention in Las Vegas, where Warren Buffet seemed unrestrained and unambiguous about his stance toward the viability the of solar and wind industry—and willing to casually pledge an amount equal to the entire GDP of Latvia to clean energy investment.  

After his deputy had tallied his bets on wind and solar projects thus far—$15 billion—Buffett was quick to append the figure. “There’s another $15 billion ready to go, as far as I’m concerned,” he said. He made the remark "without missing a beat," according to Bloomberg. The exchange speaks less to the famed investor's predilection for big, ambitious bets, however, and more to the soundness of investing in renewable energy, period. 

Just last week, the Obama administration unveiled its plan to reduce carbon emissions 30 percent by 2030, nationwide. The plan, which is to be regulated by the EPA, requires states to reduce their emissions, either by shuttering major sources of pollution, upgrading infrastructure to be more efficient or, you guessed it, funding clean energy. Wind and solar are already lucrative investments in many places across the nation, especially where state and federal incentives are strong—Texas, Iowa, and California are already booming with clean energy

But now that the EPA has sent a powerful, definitive signal that the future of American energy is trending clean, expect many more bets like Buffett's. In fact, now is probably the best time to invest in cleantech, renewable energy, and efficiency companies since the green boom of the late 2000s. 

To wit: The nation's first carbon-trading scheme, the East Coast's Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative—which sells carbon pollution permits to coal plans as a financial incentive to reduce emissions—just sold out of all of its permits at what looks like the highest-price ever

“The release of EPA’s proposed carbon pollution rules has prompted many states to evaluate how they can cost-effectively reduce power-sector carbon pollution in as simple and transparent a manner as possible,” Kelly Speakes-Backman, the chair of the RGGI Board of Directors, told Environmental Leader. “With the RGGI states on pace to reduce our 2020 power-sector carbon emissions to levels about half that of 2005, the RGGI program has demonstrated a proven market-based model to do so.”

Meanwhile, the cost of solar panels continues to plummet thanks to mass manufacturing, wind power is drawing even in cost with fossil fuels in many parts of the globe, and "a huge majority" of the public supports efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

Support is so strong, in fact, that touting clean energy and carbon pollution reduction schemes has turned out to be a political winner for many campaigning politicians, many of whom had previously considered the issue too controversial, thanks to conservative backlash over climate science and costs. 

Or, we can just look back to Buffett, who's already dumped $15 billion into clean energy projects.

“So far, we’ve stayed rich,” he said.