Russia Needs to Re-Think Its Addiction To Oil—or It Will Be Left Behind

By Jonathan Roth

Ross Beaty—the man whose vision to create the world’s largest silver miner, Pan American Silver, was backed by Bill Gates—believes the world is in the middle of an energy revolution that could disrupt the global political power structure.

“For sure we are in a fundamental transition right now,” declares Beaty in an exclusive interview with RiskHedge. “This is as profound an energy revolution as the change from wood to coal or coal to oil. It’s totally fundamental and it’s happening very quickly, actually.”

In addition to being chairman at Pan American Silver, Beaty is the executive chairman of Alterra Power Corp, a global renewable energy company with power plants in Canada, the US, and Iceland. Founded by Beaty in 2011, Alterra runs hydro, wind, geothermal, and solar projects. This first-hand experience means Beaty has a profound transformational view of what the world is set to look like.

“Russia and its fundamental mono-economy, based on exports of oil and gas to drive all of its national and many of its individual investments, it’s really going to have to re-think what it is doing,” says Beaty. “Countries that rely on coal are going to have to re-think what they’re doing and to get with the transition or get left behind. And, I have to say, this is a possible concern in the United States. Although, the US is such an innovative and dynamic country that even if you have—you could say—regressive leadership in certain places, you have such progressive leadership in the business sector and individuals are so progressive here that I really think the US will remain a world leader in this transition in many respects.”

China’s ascendance to global economic and political power is being powered by a communist party that sees renewable energy as a key to its survival. “The leader in the world right now in renewable energy—and it’s been like this for at least 10 years now—the world leader is China. The world leader!” describes Beaty. “They’re building more renewable energy in China than the rest of the world put together.”

Beaty says the idea, often touted by opponents, that renewable energy is only sustainable for consumers via government subsidies isn’t true anymore.

“The subsidies created the economies of scale that today have driven these incredible drops in prices,” explains Beaty. “So just take solar, for example. Solar today costs less than one-tenth of what it did 10 years ago, less than one-tenth. Wind is probably a third. To generate a kilowatt of wind power… today we can build wind farms that make money at three or four cents a kilowatt hour. That was unheard of five years ago. So, pretty much everything people think about renewable energy that they might have learned five years ago is not true today anymore.”

Watch the full interview with Ross Beaty above.