Tony Seba is the author of Clean Disruption of Energy and Transportation and a lecturer in Entrepreneurship at Stanford University. Seba usually opens his lectures with an early example of clean disruption. He compares two photos of the same New York Street 13 years apart. In 1900 the street is crammed with horse-drawn vehicles with one lonely car in it. “Spot the car” he says. By 1913 the same street is now crammed with motor cars with one lonely horse drawn vehicle.
All the industries built up around the horse-drawn transport – stables, stockfeed, carpenters, blacksmiths, leatherworkers, wheel-rights had their businesses disrupted and were replaced by those building, selling, servicing and fuelling cars. Other more recent examples of ‘clean disruption’ Seba cites include digital images replacing film (bye bye Kodak) and mobile phones replacing landlines. By definition the disrupting product creates a new market which either transforms, or makes obsolete, the old one.
The essential factors causing these disruptions are the continually declining prices per unit of the product at the same time as the increasing efficiencies or productivity of that unit. A combination of these and other factors have seen exponential growth in a number of areas which Seba predicts will continue and are unstoppable. In particular he examines in detail three related areas that are at the heart of the ‘revolution’ we need to have any chance of combatting global warming.
The areas of interest to us are solar energy, batteries and electric vehicles – all either making huge savings in energy use or obtaining their energy directly from the sun thus making fossil fuels obsolete. Seba makes some dramatic predictions including that solar will provide 100% of renewable energy by 2030 regardless of last ditched attempts by vested interests to stall or stop the process. Another that all new cars manufactured after 2025 will be Electric Vehicles
Energy and Transportation are at the heart of our climate crisis – burning the fossil fuels that are the major source of greenhouse gases. We must wean ourselves off both oil and coal as quickly as possible. If we can do this we may have a good chance of avoiding the dire consequences of warming. There are a large number of videos of Seba lectures and interviews online. You can view one here.