In response to the war in Ukraine, many people have pointed out that Europe must restart using coal-fired power plants and buy more liquified natural gas (LNG) from shale gas sources in the US to replace fossil fuels supplied by Russia. In our view, this narrative is misleading. Doing so would mean climate change mitigation is no longer a priority.

Coal, crude and natural gas did not become any more investible, cleaner, cheaper or less volatile since the invasion of Ukraine. Security of supply is a top priority for all countries – the EU in particular due to its reliance on Russia – and the need to accelerate the transition to clean energy remains undeniable.

Our global power industry was built around large, centralised power stations, mostly powered by coal and natural gas. But all of that is changing. The two key short-term solutions are in the hands of consumers: to embrace energy efficiency and, whenever possible, to produce electricity at the point of consumption.

Until recently, generating electricity “behind the meter” – ie, on the user’s site – has been challenging for technical and economic reasons. But substantial declines in the cost of solar panels and batteries have made these solutions  price-competitive.

The companies in our portfolio help the world to decarbonise. They are also digital, decentralised, and deflationary. Renewable energy generation is a greener, more cost-efficient alternative to an ageing and increasingly obsolete centralised electric power system. 

A solar future

Meyer Burger Technology (Zurich: MBTN) is a European producer of higher-end solar rooftop panels. The European Commission is aiming to install 15 terawatt-hours’ (TWh) worth of solar rooftops by the end of 2022, which would require seven gigawatts (GWs) of behind-the-meter solar panels to be added to the system. Almost 26GW of solar was added to the grids across the 27 EU member states in 2021, bringing the total installed capacity to nearly 165GW. (Current capacity predominantly consists…

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