Businesses urged to join clean tech revolution or die | Business | 3 News

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A Stanford University clean technology lecturer says we’re on the brink of the biggest technological revamp since the industrial revolution. Tony Seba has been in New Zealand selling his clean tech vision.

In the late 1980s, the personal computer made typewriters obsolete. It’s an example of what’s called disruptive technology – something that completely changes an established industry.

Now a visiting US academic believes we’re on the cusp of something much bigger.

“The next 15 years are going to see the biggest changes in industry and society that we’ve ever seen since the first industrial revolution,” he says.

Mr Seba has been talking to New Zealand businesses about disruptive technologies in transport and energy. He believes solar power will be the main global source of electricity in the next 15 to 20 years because centralised power generators won’t be able to compete.

“Even if they produce at zero cost, they won’t be able to compete with solar on your rooftop because the cost of transmitting that electricity is going to be higher.”

Sustainable Electricity Association chairman Brendan Winitana says solar is growing at an exponential rate in New Zealand, but expects it will only make up to 12 percent of our electricity by 2025.

He says while personal solar setups are cheaper in the long-term than buying power off the grid, we shouldn’t put all our eggs in the solar basket to ensure consistent supply.

“The take-up will increase but there will always be a mix of a range of renewables – geothermal, hydro, wind and solar.”

Renewables already play a major role in the New Zealand energy market, accounting for more than 70 percent of what we generate. But power companies 3 News spoke to all said they believe solar will continue to grow, and most of them have already entered the market.

Mr Seba says that’s smart, because traditional industry players should deal with solar like any other disruptive technology.

“Get out while you can. Lead the disruption, or die.”

Just like the typewriter.

3 News

Tony Seba was brought to New Zealand by Callaghan Innovation.