Warren Buffett once quipped that the best way to profit from the birth of the car 100 years ago would have been to short the horse.

In a world of cleantech disruptive innovation, there are plenty of horses to choose from.

Head of Sustainable Research Charles Yonts provides an indepth analysis on how solar and storage will scorch incumbents in a number of sectors in his Sunburned report, available exclusively to CLSA clients.


Warren Buffett once quipped that the best way to profit from the birth of the car 100 years ago would have been to short the horse. In a world of cleantech disruptive innovation, there are plenty of horses to choose from.

Electric and self-driving cars will usher in more change to the auto sector than today’s incumbents have ever faced. Our global auto team’s new Autocalypse! report examines the disruption taking place, timing and potential winners.

The trillion-dollar power market is broken

The technologies, skills, organisations and cultural ethos of the industrial revolution have run out of steam.

Power generators, transmission utilities and distributors face an increasingly bleak future against the onslaught of disruptive, revolutionary battery storage, ever-cheaper renewables, heightened environmental awareness and softening demand.

Incumbents will struggle while renewable-energy operators and select solar and battery manufacturers will thrive.

‘Every single industry is going to be disrupted over the next 15 years as exponential technologies of the Silicon Valley revolution converge.’ 
Tony Seba, author and CLSA U guest speaker
what's ahead

Solar heading below transmission costs
As solar panels end up on more rooftops, the owners of those roofs buy less power from the grid. Therein, we enter a vicious cycle dubbed the utility death spiral.

Rooftop solar is especially disruptive and has already reached economic competitiveness in key markets worldwide, with most global markets set for grid parity within two to three years.

Of course, this only holds true when the sun shines, leaving consumers with no credible economic alternative to the grid. But that is changing as energy storage embarks on a similar cost curve to solar.

Solar panel costs have fallen 97% since 1980

Battery storage

Set to replace electricity generation/transmission

CLSA U guest author and MIT Professor Donald Sadoway believes developing a storage system beyond lithium-ion is necessary if one wants to unlock the value of battery-powered cars and renewable energy.

Liquid-metal technology (LMT) is an inexpensive, incredibly efficient grid-size battery that stores energy using a three-layer liquid-metal core, comprised of two liquid metals and a molten salt electrolyte.

LMT is as cost competitive as hydro-pumps and retains even higher electricity, needs no dams, and thus can be used in metropolitan locations.

Electric vehicles

Time to kick that old motor to the kerb?
Over the next decade, electric vehicles and self-driving cars will revolutionise the auto industry. The pressure is coming from tech-based firms that have no legacy attachments to the old way of doing things, led by outsiders such as Tesla and Google. But Rome wasn’t built in a day and these changes will occur in stages.

Self-driving cars

Mobility on demand will change many industries
With software now a major catalyst of change, leadership in the auto industry could be challenged by auto suppliers and IT companies like Google.

As Moore's Law takes hold of advancement in the automotive industry, smart cars will become the norm, traditional concepts of drive, deliver, refuel and park will be a thing of the past, and in its place will emerge a new concept known as mobility on demand.

Why develop a driverless car?

Tech cycles shortening at breathtaking speed

‘If you look at the stock valuations of any of the companies that actually profited from any of these consumer items, they did not have that discounted into their net present value years in advance.

The information of success and failure in technology is embedded in the stock market, and if the market cannot make the prediction correctly, then it doesn’t know by definition what the future holds.’

Horace Dediu, tech maverick and founder of the market intelligence site Asymco.com

A new era

Make no mistake, conventional energy and transport will be obsolete by 2030, according to Stanford University lecturer Tony Seba.

Investors with little understanding of disruptive models, exponential technologies, business-model and product innovations will be caught offguard.

In just 15 years, Seba believes all energy will be solar or wind, and all new vehicles will be electric and driverless.

Imagine the implications of that for the cities we live in!

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