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Jigar Shah, Climate Wealth and the $10 trillion clean economy

10/01/2013 07:42 am ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

If you don't know Jigar Shah you need to. The man revolutionized the solar industry with the creation of Sun Edison and the solar-as-service business model. He's now at the forefront of efforts to expand clean energy business models to serve poor populations around the world (read an interview with him on the topic here). He is, as Stephen Lacey at Greentech Media puts it in their weekly Energy Gang podcasts, an energy futurist. That's why if you care about the future of energy, his new book Creating Climate Wealth, Unlocking the New Impact Economy needs to be on your reading list.

Full disclosure here, Jigar is a friend and a colleague so I'm apt to want to like his book. But still I haven't read it yet so why should you? Aside from the fact that Jigar is a solar legend and a pioneer in the art of clean energy war, he has a really unique take that we don't see enough of in climate debates; Jigar sees climate change as an opportunity - not a burden. His book is a bullish description of a once in a lifetime market opportunity that he thinks will unlock $10 trillion of profitable climate change solutions.

But even if you are skeptical of the opportunity it's worth reading to understand how he pioneered the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). Remember the PPA unlocked the 'bankability' of solar which has contributed enormously to the growth of the industry. So much so that Utilities are now worried about a solar induced 'death spiral.' Learning how the PPA evolved to catalyze the solar market is essential for those interested in shaping the future - especially if you're interested in off grid clean tech.

Jigar's ultimate message is that we need innovation - just not in technology. His clarion call is for financial and business innovation to unlock deployment of clean technologies around the world. I've seen the impact that business and financial innovation have had in Uttar Pradesh where they have unlocked the world's most sophisticated energy technologies (solar +LEDs) for the world's poorest. If Jigar's idea's in Climate wealth can further that process it looks like I'm going to have to set aside a few days and read up.