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Decentralised wind and solar power – democratising the energy system

Communicating The Renewable Energy RevolutionClean Technica,   27 April 14, The clean tech movement is about a shift toward a more peaceful world, a world in which there is more respect for others and in which our ways of living leave a smaller environmental footprint. Clean energy is not just about cleaning our air, preserving our water supplies and helping to protect our climate; it is also about democratizing the energy sector……

A democracy is based on information being available, shared and acted upon, yet there is a massive amount of misinformation about clean energy, and therefore a great need for independent voices and analysts to inform more people of the actual facts. Misinformation and a simple lack of awareness are probably now the largest barriers to the clean tech revolution. Transformation occurs through information sharing–blogging about clean energy and connecting the topic to millions of people is an important part of that.

Solar Power and Wind Power

Solar power has been a dream for ages. In 1931, Thomas Edison wrote, “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”

The energy potential from sunshine for one single year is far greater than the energy potential of all known coal, oil, uranium and natural gas reserves combined. The circles in the chart shown here represent annual potential for renewable sources.

graph-renewable-consumption

The potential is amazing. The solar energy hitting the state of Texas each month is greater than the total amount of energy the Texas oil and gas industry has ever produced.

Importantly, while sunshine is free, the solar panels needed to collect the energy in that sunshine and convert it into electricity are not. However, solar panels today are over 100 times cheaper (per watt) than they were in 1977. Since 2011, the cost of solar panels has dropped by approximately 60 percent, and growth has also been a big part of the stimulus for the cost drops. It is a virtuous circle. The growth curve for the solar panel market over the past few years is steep and resembles that of a plant shooting out of the earth toward the sun!

Solar power is now cheaper than retail electricity for millions of households. In the developed world, it can save countless homeowners tens of thousands of dollars. Meanwhile, all across the developing world, solar power is actually cheaper than power generated from fossil fuels. Just as many people in the developing world leapfrogged from no phones to cell phones, these populations will leapfrog from no electricity to electricity from solar panels.

The cost of wind power came down much earlier than the cost of solar power. In many regions of the world, wind power is currently the cheapest form of renewables-based electricity available–and also cheaper than electricity generated from coal, natural gas, nuclear power and oil, even if related health and environmental costs, which are staggering in themselves, are not taken into account. And costs continue to fall. The cost of wind turbines has fallen by approximately 29 percent since 2008.

In 2012, more wind power capacity was installed in the US than for any other power source. Wind is also routinely at the top of the global charts for annual power capacity additions.

Democratizing the Energy System

One of the major implications of solar power growth, electric vehicle growth and wind power growth to some extent (wind turbines are great additions to farms and small communities) is that they are essentially democratizing our energy system. They decentralize ownership and provide more societal power and more money to common citizens and small businesses. They create more energy independence and security for families, cities and nations, which I believe will ultimately contribute to greater peace in the world.

Also, there has got to be some positive psychological effect from people realizing that they are no longer burning the bones of dinosaurs (amongst other fossils!) for their energy needs, but are instead using renewable sources of energy such as sunlight and wind. http://cleantechnica.com/2014/04/27/communicating-renewable-energy-revolution/

April 28, 2014 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, decentralised

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