I spent some time yesterday with Christian Rynning-Tønnesen, CEO of Statkraft, Norway’s largest electricity producer. Despite being one of the world’s biggest oil exporters, Norway has made an enormous commitment to renewable energy—and today generates all of its electricity from renewable sources. Rynning-Tønnesen believes the rest of the world will soon follow suit. “We are at the start of something as big as going from typewriters to PCs,” he says, predicting that “within 20 years, between one-half and two-thirds of all energy will be renewable,” with solar providing the biggest boost.
I asked him about the intermittency problem of solar and wind—they only work when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing. He predicted that problem will be solved by managing demand—providing lower rates for charging your car battery when sun and wind are plentiful, for instance.
I also asked him what obstacles stand in the way of this vision, and he said a main one is trade friction. Renewable energy has become cost-effective in large part because Chinese-made solar panels have become so inexpensive. But efforts in the U.S., and to a lesser degree in Europe, to restrict solar panel imports from China could change that equation.
Rynning-Tønnesen foresees a day when electricity might be used to split water and create hydrogen, which in turn could be used to fuel ships, airplanes and other forms of transportation. That would have a further major effect on global carbon emissions.
It’s a fascinating vision of the future. And it’s one Rynning-Tønnesen will share more fully with attendees of the Fortune Global Sustainability Forum in Yunnan Province, China, in September. If you are interested in joining this invitation-only event, at one of the world’s most scenic venues, apply here.
More news below. And a note to Fortune 500 CEOs: Keep an eye out for our Fortune 500 CEO-only survey, which should arrive in your email inbox in the next few days. Please take a few minutes to fill it out. We need your input to help plan our coverage for the coming year.Alan Murray @alansmurray email@example.com
Qualcomm’s patent settlement with Apple apparently saw the latter pay the former somewhere between $4.5 billion and $4.7 billion, which comes on top of the future royalties that Apple will pay to use Qualcomm’s chipsets. This isn’t much of a problem for Apple, which has a cash hoard totalling a reported $225.4 billion. The Verge
The Federal Reserve decided not to change interest rates yesterday, due to a strong labor market and economic growth. President Trump had been calling on the central bank to cut rates by one percentage point, in order to further stimulate the economy (at a time of all-time highs.) The Fed’s next move? Could be a hike, could be a cut. Reuters
Remember when British media recently reported Theresa May’s cabinet had decided to allow Huawei equipment into the country’s 5G networks, despite the protestations of ministers such as Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson? May went ballistic after those cabinet deliberations were leaked, and held an inquiry to find the leaker. The result? Williamson, once seen as a potential future Conservative Party leader, has been fingered as the culprit and sacked from government. He strenuously denies the accusation. BBC
Attorney General William Barr has snubbed the House Judiciary Committee by refusing to testify before them today regarding the Mueller report. The Democrat-controlled committee may now subpoena Barr—it’s already issued a subpoena for the Justice Department to hand over an unredacted version of the report, and the department is pushing back. Barr testified before the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday, repeatedly defending President Trump’s conduct. Bloomberg
Around the Water Cooler
The EU is not pleased with President Trump’s decision to allow U.S. citizens to sue investors in Cuba. To protect European companies operating in Cuba, the EU may sue the U.S. at the World Trade Organization or launch retaliatory sanctions. Reuters
Bloomberg has an interesting piece explaining Instex, the “special purpose vehicle” the EU is setting up to keep Iranian trade going despite U.S. sanctions. From the article: “It will probably take years for Instex to become genuinely viable in terms of participating countries and trade flows. But it’s serving a political purpose already: Giving Iran an incentive to stay aboard the nuclear deal, and reminding the U.S. that sanctions overreach may harm its interests.” Bloomberg
A college counsellor got a $6.5 million payment for helping a Chinese student get a place at Stanford, according to the Wall Street Journal. The student’s family apparently got connected to the counsellor by a Morgan Stanley financial advisor. WSJ
Tesla is not the most popular electric-car producer in the European market, but it has a window of opportunity to make further inroads before next year, when some EV makers will launch new products to coincide with the introduction of new emissions rules. However, price could hold Tesla back. Fortune