Ted Turner thinks clean energy is where cable TV was 40 years ago. It's that kind of statement that will get a lot of people thinking an energy revolution can happen, because we all know what he did when a lot of nonbelievers said an all-day news network would never fly. And if you saw him speak at the Schwab Impact 2008 conference last fall as I did, you know that, whether you like his stances or not, he comes across as a very engaging, likable guy who makes big ideas seem possible.
So today I read an interview published by Bloomberg News with great interest. When Turner calls clean-energy tech "the greatest business opportunity that the world has ever seen," a lot of people will listen. I predict he'll be even better at delivering the clean-energy message than fellow billionaire and friend T. Boone Pickens, who has been pushing natural gas and wind as alternatives to fossil fuels.
Turner has put big bucks into solar and says he may expand his solar investments. He's also donated money to George Washington University's Institute for Analysis of Solar Energy, which is working to be the premier research facility in the world focused on economic, technical and public policy issues associated with developing and deploying solar energy.
Personally, I think solar is still too expensive for most home owners, even with all the tax credits and the requirements that utilities buy back solar-generated electricity. Right now, this alternative makes more sense for businesses that have big electric needs and the room to install a lot of panels. But I like the idea of solar, and I hope efforts by Turner and the George Washington institute will help make it more affordable more quickly for more individuals.