by Steve Clark Founder of Citizens for Clean Energy 1989 (changed to the singular "Citizen" when no one seemed to care during the '90s), now affiliated with Clean Energy Action
|There's light at the end of the coal mine tunnel!|
The future of clean energy is now. It is time to leave behind the polluting ways of the past and embrace the clean energy future. There is a revolution that has been happening in the way in which we make and use energy. In the past we have dug black rocks from the ground, hauled them to power plants and burned them, fouling the air and water with pollution in the process (about 15 pounds of coal per day per person). This primitive, inefficient, dirty method of making the electricity we rely on is no longer either necessary or cost effective. Now we can get the energy that we use, not only for our homes and businesses but also for our transportation, from the sunshine that falls on our roofs. The implications of these changes are truly revolutionary and the benefits we will reap are tremendous. First, and most important, we must realize that this revolution is within our grasp - we can stop following the old dirty methods of making energy.
We no longer need new central power plants (neither coal nor nuclear) and the investment in such projects is money wasted (Clean energy initiatives to stop Excel and TriState from going any further down this road are headed by Leslie Gulstrum at Clean Energy Action, Environment Colorado, and Western Resource Advocates). They are neither clean nor safe and the efforts to make them so are misguided. In reference to new developments in solar energy technology David Freeman says, "the prospect of this technology creates a conundrum for the electric utility industry and Wall Street. Can -- or should -- any utility, or investor, count on the long-term viability of a coal, nuclear or gas investment? The answer is no." Mr. Freeman is referring to one of the disruptive technological developments in solar, the reduction of the cost of solar electricity by 80% from $5 to $1 dollar per Watt (see NanoSolar.com). On the cover of a recent Solar Today magazine was an illustrative example of what the future of energy will look like for all of us. It is a family home that produces energy from solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on the roof. The PV not only provides the energy for their home but for their electric vehicle (EV). If you are one of those careful people who has wanted to 'go solar', but couldn't make the numbers work financially, try adding your mobility to the equation. Not only does this help justify the cost of solar, an EV versus an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicle is twice the energy efficiency savings of changing your incandescent lights to compact flourescents. EVs are 10x as efficient as ICE vehicles. Here is the math on electric mobility versus the old ICE gasoline powered vehicle you drive today. First off, with the exception of an arsonist, who wants gasoline today? Gas is a dirty, toxic, smelly and dangerously volatile, flammable substance. What you want is mobility, so stop thinking in miles per gallon and start thinking in Miles Per Dollar (MPD). If your car gets 30 mpg and gas is $3 per gallon you get 10MPD. The new Tesla Motors electric car not only goes fast and will travel 250 mile on a charge it gives you 100MPD (Teslamotors.com). It costs the U.S. $700 million a day to buy foreign oil. That is money that leaves our economy and goes to benefit other countries. There is a 7X factor for money kept in our economy. Would our economy benefit from an extra $5 billion dollars a day in financial transactions? (to understand the deadly reality of gasoline fueled ICE vehicles read Terry Tamminen's new book Lives Per Gallon). Some people would like to have true cost accounting to help make the numbers work for solar energy. The first thing that should happen is to remove the billions of dollars in subsidies that go to the old polluting fossil fuel industry and then we can start to consider other accounting methods. To understand the implications, benefits and inevitability of the solar revolution read Travis Bradford's new book of the same name - Solar Revolution. Mr. Bradford makes clear from an economics perspective the inevitability of the transition to renewable energy. While the argument is made that PV is a hedge against the future cost of electricity, I would add that using PV and an EV for mobility is a hedge against the much more volatile energy cost of gasoline. But, for now, lets just say that our communities will be cleaner, quieter, healthier and more prosperous with solar energy and electric mobility. And we haven't even mentioned global warming and oil spills and war and...and... and. Solar Energy - Free Deliveries Daily Further Reading: