Showing posts with label solar. Show all posts
Showing posts with label solar. Show all posts

Sunday, December 15, 2013

What's under the Christmas tree for good boys and girls?

On Friday, our quarterly electricity bill arrived. I ripped it open and pored over the pages. Studied the numbers and the graphs. I discovered that we used 25% less electricity than in the comparable period last year. So our bill was only $210.

Our bill tells us that our average daily consumption was about half that of comparable households. High five! Way to go, us!

The bill also told us that our hard-working solar panels generated 85% of the electricity we consumed. Whoo-hoo!

The icing on the cake of all this wonderfulness is that we get paid 60c kWH for the electricity we generate - for every last kWH. That added up to a very cheerful $300.

Over the last billing cycle, we earned $90 more than we spent on electricity. With Christmas around the corner, that sounds like an extra $90 for Christmas goodies. Oooooh. I wonder what we'll get?

The moral of the story is that if you want extra treats under YOUR Christmas tree, invest in solar energy now!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Wuthering Heights – love is not a rational activity

Our enduring love affair with oil means that pain and punishment don't diminish our affection for the beloved. Even catastrophes like the Gulf oil spill haven't dented our passionate dependency on oil.

It's hard to comprehend this kind of irrational behaviour. Science has its logical explanations, but no one has shone a better light on irrational love than Emily Bronte in Wuthering Heights where destructive forces are unleashed when Cathy and Heathcliffe can't be together. This kind of love is a force of nature not to be argued with. It makes absolute sense on an emotional level, and, after all, love is not a rational activity. 

It seems that we'll put up with a lot of abuse from oil and still keep loving it, but that is not the case with nuclear. When nuclear treats us badly, we're outa there! Japan closed 50 nuclear power stations after the Fukushima disaster. And half way around the world, Germany pulled the plug on its nuclear plants, closing eight immediately and phasing the remainder out by 2022.

Given the destructive force of carbon emissions, we better hope that our love affair with oil tapers off into a cooler and more pragmatic business relationship, similar to our feelings for nuclear.

If we think back, perhaps we can see some signs that this is happening. Cars have lost their place as fetish objects in popular culture. Increasingly, young people are choosing not to drive at all. In the US, the percentage of people younger than 35 without a driver’s license has risen to 26% in the past decade.

Our new fetish objects are mobile phones, ipods, ipads and e-books. They are all powered by electricity.

Perhaps we see emerging signs of love for renewables in growing affection for solar power, the teddy bear of renewables, and appreciation of wind generators for their majestic beauty.

Let's hope this early affection flowers into full blown obsessive passion—a Cathy and Heathcliffe kind of love that let's nothing get in the way.

Kate Bush captured the wild irrationality of Cathy-and-Heathcliffe love in her song, Wuthering Heights. Check out this fabulous version by Hayley Westenra who can really sing!


News of the day on the Transformations menu tab.

India takes up solar power. Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Ltd. (KREDL) has embarked upon a Public-Private-Partnersip project for a 1000 hectare solar park at Mannur village in Bijapur. KREDL has already commenced projects to generate 80 MW of solar power in Bijapur and Gulbarga districts, and is working on increasing solar power generation by 40 MW every year. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Great Game – superpower rivalries

The Great Game is the setting for Rudyard Kipling's Kim, where Kim enters the world of superpower espionage along the North West Frontier of India/Pakistan/Afghanistan. It tells the story of a clever boy who gets caught up in the machinations of British and Russian imperial power.

In today's world, the Great Game has played out between countries fighting for control over energy supplies. Oil reserves have made the Middle East a hotbed of conflict, and wars have been fought in Kuwait and Iraq. 

Like Kim, I am playing a role in the Great Game. Kim acted for one of the protagonists, but I have rolled up my sleeves to diffuse the situation.

With my solar PV, I am making fossil fuel reserves less important and not worth fighting over.

In Australia in August 2011, solar PV contributed 2.3% of total electricity production, and capacity continues to increase dramatically. Commenters call this the democratisation of electricity. This occurs when millions of homes and businesses have more control over their power production and consumption.

Democracy is about power, but it also has the moral dimension of fairness and justice. This is true whether it applies to political democracy, information democracy or electricity democracy.
The consumption of energy is no longer just an economic act—this is becoming a conscious act and an act of conscience. This will likely intensify in the coming years.

All our acts are moral acts. When we choose renewable energy over fossil fuels, we make powerful economic and moral statements.

When millions of us bring our actions in line with our moral compass, the world changes without benefit of politicians.

This has me thinking deeply and I'll write more about it tomorrow.

 Via Elisa Wood at RealEnergyWriters.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The teddy bear of energy sources

Solar power is the teddy bear of energy sources. What's not to like about the sun, the source of all life? Best of all: No wars have ever been fought over solar power (though I'm sure that teddy bears have been at the centre of a good few sibling battles).

Eric Curren gives a comprehensive round-up of the status of solar power at Transition Voice as at November 2010, in the U.S.

He notes that solar is cute and lovable right now because it is mostly small scale and individuals can have their own pet systems.

This will change when large scale solar becomes more common as countries like Saudi Arabia (investing $109 billion in solar over the next 20 years) start to roll out big solar generators in desert areas and upgrade their national grid networks. In Australia, Beyond Zero Emissions advocates for Concentrating Solar Thermal in their Stationary Energy Plan.

Schemes are being sketched to augment Europe's power supply from large scale solar plants in North African and Middle Eastern (MENA) countries connected to Europe by HVDC transmission lines.

Source: 2050 Desert Power report (click to enlarge)

Locals in MENA countries who see industrial scale solar generators and the transmission lines carrying the power to rich northern neighbours may not see solar as a lovable teddy bear. If they are given a share of the power at a price they can afford, they are likely to see solar more like a fairy godmother.

Continuing the teddy bear metaphor, Eric Cullen asks:
What will it take to help the solar teddy bear grow into a thousand-pound grizzly, ready to rip to shreds high energy costs, polluting fuels and dangerous nukes?
Now THAT'S a future I want to see!


The 2050 Desert Power report is discussed at ReNewEnergy. You can download the report here.