By Kyle Pennell
At present, the dominant sources of electricity in the United States are largely fossil fuels. Petroleum, natural gas, and coal continue to make up nearly 85% of energy consumed in this country with nuclear power and renewables like biomass, hydroelectricity, solar, wind and geothermal accounting for the rest.
The times, however, are changing. Advances in technology, driven by demand for cleaner fuels, are producing huge drops in the price of renewable energy sources and batteries. Read on to find out why solar is poised to be the fuel of the future.
The end of coal and the heyday of natural gas
The era of coal is nearing its demise. In the past 10 years alone, coal-derived energy consumption in the US has dropped from 23% to 15% of the market share. The reasons for this are primarily economics-driven. Coal is simply becoming too expensive relative to alternative sources.
For one, the advent of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling has led to a natural gas boom. The US is now the top natural gas producer in the world. At the same time, advances in renewable technologies like wind and solar are beginning to make inroads into the coal market as the threat of global warming and environmental regulations ramp up.
At present, the rise of natural gas is the biggest contributor to coal’s loss of market share. Natural gas’s status as an on-demand resource makes the transition simple. Solar and wind, while offering cleaner energy, continue to face intermittency challenges as their production fluctuates with the sun and wind. But this too is soon to change.
Figure 1. The decline of coal and the rise of solar, wind and natural gas. Source.
Renewables will trump natural gas
Natural gas too, however, will sunset. Natural gas pricing has bottomed out, while that of solar and wind continues to drop. Since 2009, solar photovoltaic (PV) module prices have fallen by 80 percent and wind turbine prices have fallen by around 30-40 percent. Now, a new report suggests a continuation of this trend forecasting a 59% drop in the price of solar and a 35% decline in the price of wind energy by 2025.
The past few years have also seen dramatic advances in lithium ion battery technology with accompanying massive price drops. The price of a lithium ion battery has dropped 70% in the last 18 months as huge producers like LG Chem, Samsung, Panasonic and Tesla ramp up their production capabilities. This trend is predicted to continue over the next several years while battery energy density, or the amount of energy that can be stored, further improves. The availability of affordable large scale battery storage means solar and wind power supplies can be transformed to on-demand resources rendering them competitive with natural gas on all fronts. Research enterprise Bloomberg New Energy Finance declares that batteries capable of storing power at utility scale will be as widespread in 12 years as rooftop solar panels are now and predicts that over the next 25 years, small-scale battery storage will become a $250 billion market.
Figure 2. Battery technology will boost small-scale solar installations. Source.
The renewables revolution will be led by solar, not wind
Both wind and solar power provide viable alternatives to our planet-warming addiction to fossil fuels, but solar offers greater potential for the future. At present, large scale wind installations are slightly cheaper, but the places where windmills can be profitably installed is limited to a small number of high wind areas. Off-shore wind farms have more promise, but are also more expensive to build and maintain. In contrast, the opportunities for solar are boundless due to the possibilities of distribution. You can have large scale solar farms in remote locations, small-scale rooftop generation on buildings and homes, and off-the-grid installations on islands or in emerging economies. As Elon Musk famously stated, “you could take a corner of Utah and Nevada and power the entire United States with solar power.”
As our dependence upon fossil fuels becomes more and more difficult to sustain, both financially and environmentally, it is clear that a practical alternative energy source must be available. While there is a market for a diverse mix of generating sources, from nuclear to natural gas to geothermal, it is becoming increasingly apparent that solar energy coupled with battery storage is the best all-around solution to meet the world’s energy demands. As other sources fall victim to price increases, supply depletion and environmental regulations, the coming energy era promises to be dominated by the sun.
By Jerry Mooney
It’s easy to believe that if you want to start your own business and become an entrepreneur, you have to head to a big city. The successes of Silicon Valley and the power in New York City will always make you feel that way. But, packing your bags and head for the bright lights doesn’t have to be on the agenda for you if you’re a country bumpkin at heart. Because even small towns and rural countrysides need businesses too. In fact, they may often need your ideas, talent, and passion more than some big city does. So if you do want to start up on your own, and you really don’t want to leave your hometown, here are five rural business ideas that could be worth your dime.
Business idea number one is always going to be farming. It’s what a lot of agricultural land and rural areas thrive off of. So don’t discount it. You also don’t have to assume that you have to run a working farm in any particular way. You could choose to go into any kind of farming that you’d like; crop farming, cattle farming – even growing produce or farming fish. You just have to consider what your local area would be great at producing, and what it needs.
Next up, you could consider running a hunting business. Hunting is a huge part of country life, and it can be fascinating to those not used to it. So why not get into the business yourself? By getting your hands on a suitable property, such as those sold by Ranch Marketing Associates LLC, you can get started. Regardless of the kind of hunting you’re used to, you could set it up as an activity style business, with lodge and board included.
The last point leads us nicely onto this one – because a lot of tourists and visitors do want to head out to the country for a mini break or a long vacation. And most of them want a picture-perfect idyllic kind of spot to stay in. So, that makes cabin rentals a hot topic to consider – especially if they’re by a lake and you can offer water sports as part of the deal.
If you live in a town that does see a lot of tourism, or you want to move to one, then you might want to open up a coffee shop. This can also work for a town that has a lot of hustle and bustle about it naturally. Because busy towns are full of people that need refueling. If you can come up with your own quirky USP, it will always go down a treat too.
And finally, what about a luxury spa? Again, we’re thinking lakeside here, ideally in a remote location, where guests can come to be pampered and switch off under the stars with the sounds of the quiet countryside to soothe them. It might require a bit of an investment, but you should be able to charge a pretty penny for something like this too.
By Brian McKay
Businesses fail every single day, it’s sad, but it’s true. In fact, it’s widely believed that nine in ten of all business fail, which is a terrifying statistic if you’re just starting out in business. This figure is disputed a lot, but whatever the true number, there is no denying the fact that a lot of businesses do fail. If your business simply stops trading, you could be considered closed down, but dissolving your business is the legal way to do it, and is recognised by the government. Knowing some of the most common reasons why businesses fail, may help you to avoid your own going down the same path. With this in mind, here are some of the most common reasons why a business might dissolve.
A very common reason why a lot of businesses dissolve is that its owner has decided to retire and didn’t have anyone to take over for them. This usually happens because the business owner doesn’t have any family to pass the business down to and doesn’t want to leave their business in the hands of an “outsider”. However, they could have family, but don’t feel as though they can trust them with the business. Whatever the reason, the decision to find out how to dissolve a Limited Company is sure to be a difficult one, especially if the business was passed down to them from family.
If you don’t have much experience dealing with finances, then owning a business is sure to be a difficult task. You need to know where all of your money is going and coming from each and every month, or you could risk losing money. You also need a plan for times when you don’t have as much money coming in as you need. If you don’t have much accounting experience, you might want to consider hiring an accountant to help you out.
Very few businesses can survive without any money at all, and no business can do it for very long. Your low income could be because of any number of reasons, such as poor accounting, a defective or mediocre product, or bad marketing. If you don’t have much money coming in, you may decide that it’s best to dissolve your business before you get yourself into too much debt.
It may sound harsh, but sometimes a business failing has no cause other than poor management by its owner. There are so many things that a business owner can do that could jeopardise the success of their business. For example, a lot of businesses fail because the owner tried to grow and expand too quickly. This expansion could put a strain on the entire business, causing it to lose more money than it’s making. The owner could also have little experience running a business, so don’t set proper goals or manage the books.
No one wants their business to fail, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. Hopefully, the information above can help yours to avoid failing too.
By Lina Martinez
We will all use technology from the moment we wake up each day. But in many cases, we aren’t always using technology in our lives as much as we could do. It is not necessarily meaning that you need to sit scrolling through your social media feeds more everyday. But more about how wisely you are using your tech. It can do a lot more for you than you think. If you’re looking to make money or are in a management position in your career, then using tech can have a massive impact on your personal and business capacity to make money.
So while there are many ways that you can use tech to help your finances, here are a few of them that you can start implementing today to help your bottom line.
Track Your Finances
Saving money is something that we all strive to do, but in many cases, it is so much easier said than done. But sitting and budgeting can be time consuming, which is where tech can come in to help you. There are so many products out there that make budgeting and tracking finances much, much easier. Using something like Mint allows you to have all of your finances, cards, and and loans in one place to track. Then monitoring it all can be much simpler, as many of us will have different accounts with different banks and lenders.
Tell You What To Invest
Saving money is a really good habit to get into. But if you’re just letting that money sit in your bank, then you aren’t going to get as much for it as you could elsewhere. So if you have some saved up, you can use technology to help you when it comes to investing. From checking stock ratings to getting the expertise from those that are more experienced than you, there are sites and apps to help you do just that. Stocks can be a good way to make some money when done well and timed right. But regardless of how you choose to invest, you just need to make sure that your money is working for you, rather than sitting there doing very little.
Selling Products or Services
At work or at home, I bet we all use tech to buy things from other people. Using a store’s app is a quick way to make a purchase, as well as looking what competitors are doing. But you can be using tech in the same way, to sell what you have. Or if you’re able to be selling but don’t have anything to offer, then you can always do it on behalf of a company who will pay you to sell for them. Marketplaces are cropping up regularly, so if this kind of thing is for you, then make sure you check it out.
Another way that you can make money through selling is by using affiliate marketing. The size of your business will depend on what you can make, but something is better than nothing, right? By sharing something you’ve bought and loved, it can create a small income for you too if people buy the same. Technology working at it’s finest!
By Lina Martinez
Having already built a successful business, it would be easy to assume the hard work is finished. However, a truly successful company is one that’s geared towards sustainability. As such, ensuring that the operation continues to run smoothly is key.
No business venture is perfect, which is why you must always look to correct mistakes and improve your shortcomings. Unfortunately, doing this is impossible unless you are willing to analyse the current situation. Giving your company an annual health check is essential for ongoing success, and here’s how to do it in style.
Clients may be the most important people in the business. Before worrying too much about them, though, you must focus on maximising staff productivity. Firstly, if you take care of them, then they will take care of the customers. Given that their input also influences everything from assembly to zone pricing, you’d be a fool to overlook this factor.
An effective recruitment drive should sit at the heart of all operations. It should include analysing personality traits as well as skills and experience. Meanwhile, maintaining high spirits is another crucial responsibility for all business owners. Simple gestures like having a coffee machine can make a world of difference. Likewise, investing in perks such as healthcare and gym memberships can work wonders.
Communication is another vital element. Team building exercises can have an immensely positive impact. More importantly, investing in the right tech facilities is vital. Cloud computing, team messaging Apps, and conferencing tools can all take your business to the next level. Time is money, and making yours work harder is key.
Business premises aren’t just somewhere to work. They provide the foundations of the entire company. Naturally, a great geographic location can actively aid the company’s presence as well as foot traffic in stores. Regardless of where you operate from, however, the most important thing is to build positive surroundings.
Cleanliness is the first factor to consider. Poorly kept work arenas can encourage illness as well as growing physical damage to buildings and business assets. Aside from cleaning the internal office and shop floor spaces, you should use drain cleaners to create a safer and more appealing place of work. On a similar note, treating external areas can make a noticeable difference. Whether it’s painting the walls or adding plants, those impacts should not be ignored.
Good organisational and design skills can create a better working environment for staff members. Furthermore, it encourages brighter responses from the customers. Bright colour schemes, increased lighting, and a generally positive atmosphere won’t go unnoticed. If those tweaks can fit in with the brand’s ethos too, you’ll be onto a certain winner.
In today’s modern business world, there’s no escaping the need for a strong web game. The online audience is bigger than ever while users now consume content on a daily basis via their smartphones, laptops and tablets. Even if your venture doesn’t rely on internet sales, it cannot ignore the need to stand out from the crowd.
By now, you should know that a strong SEO strategy is vital for increased organic traffic. Familiarising yourself with the methods for a localised presence should be one of the top items on your agenda. On a similar note, all social media streams must use images with the right dimensions while the content posted should always stay on brand. Otherwise, you could inadvertently alienate some of your audience.
The website needs to look and navigate well too. Finally, if selling via your site, the ecommerce facilities need to be of the highest standard. Get all of these items right, and your online strategies will look better than ever.
Every business sets out to provide customers with the right products. In truth, though, client expectations are far more complex. If your business wants to go the extra mile for increased sales and loyalty, adapting its approach to customer care is essential. Ultimately, a happy user isn’t just likely to come back for more. They’ll additionally spread the word to friends and family. Given the power of recommendation, you should be eager to gain those benefits.
All clients want value for money, regardless of financial backgrounds. Loyalty schemes, special offers, and freebies are all obvious gestures. However, you could also review your approach to social media. A blog, for example, gives them free hints and tips that can enhance their experiences with your products. Another simple solution is to simply ask for their feedback, and use those responses to give them the service they crave.
Above all else, you need to ensure that your products give them the winning emotional reactions that confirm they’ve had their money’s worth. Failing to do this might not stop you from getting sales right now, but it will do once your competitors take advantage.
Ultimately, everything you do in business should be geared to generating a profit. Increased revenue is a crucial factor, but only signals half of the battle. In terms of the operational ongoings, keeping a close eye on your spending is a major responsibility.
Wasted money is the biggest sin of any business, but it’s very easy to overlook those issues without the right analysis. Accounting shouldn’t be an annual task, especially as computer software makes it very easy to stay on top. Meanwhile, establishing a budget can be beneficial as you look to take a more responsible approach to business management. If nothing else, the improved organisation should reduce the threat of unnecessary expenses. These could be related to late payments or simply making bad decisions.
It’s worth noting that shopping around can generate huge savings too. Price comparisons can save money on a whole host of features, especially ongoing services. This will keep the business in far greater health.
The Final Word
In truth, your business is probably operating OK as things stand. However, there’s always room for improvement. Appreciating this factor is the hallmark of a winner. Make those upgrades today, and your business will reap the rewards tomorrow.