Tony Seba Guiding Us Through Our Transition Into Clean Disruptions


Dear Friends, Visitors/Viewers/Readers,

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Today, I’d like to introduce you to Tony Seba, the Stanford Professor with 20+ years of solid operating experience in fast growing clean tech companies. He was the vice president, corporate development at “Utility Scale Solar, Inc.” where he helped the company grow from the garage-stage through growth strategy, fundraising, business development with plant developers and partners. He was the founder and CEO of (a B2B ecommerce site which he established as the undisputed leader in its market segment, winning much top industry awards as the Upside Hot 100 and the B2B ‘Best of the Web.’ Seba led two venture capital rounds raising more than $31 million in funding from well-known venture funds, hired a complete management team, 100+ employees, and managed the development of strategic partnerships with some of the world’s top companies.

Tony Seba demonstrates “Why do smart people at smart organizations consistently fail to anticipate or lead market disruptions?” He helps us to understand why so-called experts tend not to be able to correctly make correct forecast about technological disruption. In these cases, the Clean Disruption of Energy & Transportation:

  • Technology Cost Curves: exponential growth, with example of lithium ion battery storage technology and solar PV costs
  • Technology Convergence: disruption caused by the convergence of several technologies, enabling functionalities that may not have existed in the past (2007 for smartphone.
  • Exponential Market Adoption S-Curve: upon reaching the tipping point, technological disruption would grow exponentially and continue to grow at a steeper rate (growing even more quickly). This phenomenon was/is observed in technologies such as colored tv, smartphones, tablet, and will also be true in solar and EV.
  • Business Model Innovation: examples such as Uber (started in 2009 and now has more bookings than whole taxi industry in USA), Didi, Lyft, Ola, AirBnb…

Five technologies (below), plus business model innovation  will be disrupting, within the coming decade, all of the energy and transportation system as we know it for purely economic reasons. It will be the: Clean Disruption of Energy & Transportation:

  • Batteries: Li-on battery costs dropping exponentially (cost dropped 14% per year between 1995 – 2010, 16% per year between 2010 – 2014, due to other industries’ (IT, Electronics, Automotive, and Energy) investment). With more investments continue to come from BYD, Foxconn, Samsung SDI, Dyson, and 12+ megafactories coming online by 2020, cost curve, cost will continues to drop about 20%  after 2014. Furthermore, the grid works like a just-in-time supply chain without inventory. This inefficient use of assets designed for peak is waiting to be disrupted. NextEra Energy CEO Jim Robo   commented, “Post 2020 there may never be another peaker built in the U.S.” In Feb. 2017, Southern California Edison contracted the system to meet PEAK Demand  needs using battery technology following its Alyson Canyon natural gas leaks. Tesla’s 80 MWh system was built in 88 days that no natural gas peaker could have competed.  There are also business model innovation that treats storage as a service, reducing utility bills by 10%. By 2020, it will cost American families about $1.2 per day for a full day of electricity storage. People will do this because it will save people money, purely for economics.
  • Electric Vehicles (EV’s): Consumer reports gave Tesla Model S an evaluation of 103 out of possible 100 for Car of the Year in 2013. Electric Vehicle (EV) is 5x more energy efficient than Internal Combustion Engine (ICE). It is also cheaper to transmit/distribute electrons than atoms, therefore EVs are 10x cheaper to charge/fuel than ICE vehicles. EVs are also cheaper to maintain (ICE vehicles have 2000+ moving parts whereas EVs have 18-20 moving parts). EVs lifetime is about 2.5x greater than ICE vehicles. In 2017, GM’s Chevy Bolt EV has 200-mile range and costs $37,500 whereas Tesla Model 3 has 215-mile range and costs $35,000. By 2025, every new vehicles will be of EV.
  • Autonomous Vehicles: the biggest disrupter. The World’s first self-driving taxi debuted in Singapore in 2016. Uber’s self-driving fleet arrived in Pittsburgh in August of 2016. 33 corporations are investing billions  and working on autonomous vehicles. Tesla also announced that by the end of 2017, all Tesla vehicles can go from CA to NY without needing human controls (level 3).  Elon Musk also said that Tesla will be able to  transition to level 5 (fully self-driving, no pedals nor steering wheel) in 2019. Two technologies making autonomous vehicles possible: 1. LIDAR (laser+radar) price dropped from about $70,000 in 2012 to $1,000 in 2014, and $250 in 2016, and soon to be $90. 2. Super computing power priced at $46 million in 2000, $59 in 2016. These technologies are improving at 1,000x in the next 8 years.  Open source is also responsible much of the growth in the future.
  • Ride-Hailing:Transportation As A Service” initiated from a think tank founded by Tony Seba, a disruption of transportation. Reason behind this concept: most American family spend about $10,000 to own and use a car per year that is only used about 4% of the time. Disruption: 1. electric vehicles 2. self-driving 3. ride-hailing. These are convergence of multiple business and technology models. The day the regulatory agency approves the autonomous vehicle is the day when the cost of per mile transport will be 10x cheaper for transport as a service than it is to own a car for consumers. Consumers will be giving up car ownership and henceforth the collapse of ownership of ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles and IO (individual ownership) of vehicles. Therefore there will be 80% fewer cars on the road, parking lots, and insurance for vehicles. Annual demand for new vehicles will also decrease by 70% and demand for oil will also decrease by 2021 (around the time when oil costs about $25 per barrel).
  • Solar: example: Denmark’s Copenhagen International  School generating 50% of its power need from solar (even the side of the building is part of this solar power plant). Solar PV cost dropped from $100./W in 1970’s to $0.33/W now. This is about 303x improvement. Globally, solar installations have doubled every 2 years since 2000. At the time of Tony Seba’s presentation, solar represented 1.5% of the power generation (it is now about 2%). If we use the 1.5% to calculate, at the doubling rate every 2 years (1.5%, 3%, 6%, 12%, 24%, 48%, 96%), it would only take 6-7 doublings (or 12-14 years) to reach 100% of the world’s energy generation (around 2030). Since 1970’s, the price or cost all conventional resource-based energy sources (such as oil, natural gas, or coal) have gone up by 6x-16x while solar has gone down by 303x. The cost of solar will continue to drop. According to Deutsche Bank, solar will be below Grid Parity for 80% of the global market by the end of 2017, meaning 80% of the solar world market will be at or below utility rate. According to PWC, 69% of corporations (Apple, Facebook, etc.) are actively pursuing solar purchase because it makes economic sense to go solar. Solar growth rate will accelerate. By 2020, it is expected that the cost of rooftop solar will cost less than the cost of transmission, without any subsidy for solar. Central generation will be obsolete. There will be no other form of energy generation that will be cheaper than “solar+storage”. By 2020, it is expected that the solar growth rate will really take off. Utility scale solar will drop below 3 cents per kWh (nothing will be able to compete with solar at 3 cents per kWh). Solar at 5.8 cents per kWh is competitive with oil at $10 per barrel and gas at $5 per MMBtu. In 2016, solar costed: in Chile was at 2.91 cents per kWh (unsubsidized) & Dubai at 2.99 cents per kWh. In 2016 Dubai PPA at 2.42 cents per kWh (unsubsidized). Tucson Electric has just announced that Solar+Storage PPA at 4.5 cents per kWh. It no longer makes sense to build peaker plants when solar generation costs so much less. Distributed solar, due to economics, will make sense and will become the rule. In Australia, 25% of the homes are already using solar (it costs 12  cents for transmission while solar cost 7 cents to generate in Australia)

Economics is already here: Unsubsidized Solar & Autonomous EVs are No Longer the Transition but Disruption For Our Energy & Transportatioin! Tipping point will be around 2020.

Besides pure economics, think of the: decrease in pollution, slowing in climate change, decrease in international conflicts, and increase in local job opportunities as a result of these disruptions! Bravo For Clean Disruptions!

~have a bright and sunny day~

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Gathered, written, and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker
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