Our journey towards free energy

“Once the renewable infrastructure is built, the fuel is free forever. Unlike carbon-based fuels, the wind and the sun and the earth itself provide fuel that is free, in amounts that are effectively limitless.”
~ Al Gore, former American Vice-President

It turns out that people in general prefer investing their money in energy generation that doesn’t pollute and becomes free after a short period of between five to ten years, rather than paying higher and higher prices for electricity produced with polluting, climate-disrupting fossil fuels.

It is not surprising. By now, the only ones who still don’t like renewables are the owners of the fossil fuel industry, those on its payroll as well as those who receive its donations in the dark – which unfortunately includes quite a few people in charge of our governments and media.

Their days are numbered. Every day new headlines highlight the limitless potential of renewable energy. The possibilities seem endless. In the bigger perspective, our world’s entire energy use is only 16 terrawatts per year compared to the sun’s 23,000 terrawatts of annual capacity.

Over the last 12 months, there has been a 20 per cent reduction in the cost of solar plants, when you look at the actual cost of putting a solar panel in. Onshore wind has got a 12 per cent decrease. And the most amazing is the energy storage systems, in particular batteries: In the last 12 month, batteries have had a cost reduction of over 80 per cent. Now that is phenomenal.

Parkes: The king of renewables

First country to ban fossil fuels

Carlos Alvarado, newly-inaugurated President of Costa Rica, has announced his country will be the first to ban fossil fuels.

» The Independent – 10 May 2018:
Costa Rica to ban fossil fuels and become world’s first decarbonised society
“New president embraces ‘titanic and beautiful task’ of complete renewable energy transition.”

Australia: 9,500 new solar panels up every day

According to a Victorian Government survey, where 3,333 citizens were interviewed in 2016, three out of four people in the state – 76 per cent of – are interested in purchasing 100% of home energy through a GreenPower supplier, while 74 per cent are interested in generating their own household’s energy, feeding their excess energy back into the grid.

In Australia in 2017, solar was up 147 per cent, rising to $8.5 billion. Australia installed more than 3.5 million solar rooftop panels that year, which works out to an incredible 9,500 panels per day.

So here’s the really good news:

“At this rate, Australia would reach 70% renewable electricity by 2030. Current trends put the world on track to reach 100% renewable electricity by 2032.”

» The Conversation – 6 April 2018:
Solar PV and wind are on track to replace all coal, oil and gas within two decades
“The more widely PV and wind generation are distributed across the world, the less the risk of wide-scale disruption from natural disasters, war and terrorism.”

Revolutionising the market
Let’s just park the climate change and carbon emissions discussion for a second. Even if the warming of the planet caused by our burning of fossil fuels wasn’t an issue, we would still need to diversify ourselves out of the fossil fuel industry without discussion, because fossil fuels are finite resource. 

And now, as clean renewables are getting cheaper than polluting the air with burning coal, oil and gas, the only responsible plan for our energy future is to secure long-term energy supply system.

It is unfortunate for us, the taxpayers of Australia, that the current federal government of Australia is obsessed with maintaining and protecting the old, decaying and expensive energy system, because – just like the CD-manufacturers when the mp3-file arrived – this industry will soon lose its revenue stream, and our public money will then have been wasted on building and maintaining all these useless, stranded assets.

Not even a government can hold that development back any longer. The renewable energy systems are revolutionising the energy market, just like the mp3-files revolutionised the music market.

According to a UN Environment and Bloomberg New Energy Finance report, the world added more solar capacity in 2017 than the combined total for all fossil fuel-fired power. The record 157 gigawatts of renewables added in 2017, excluding large hydro, made up the lion’s share of power capacity growth.

“Large-scale solar has gone from an emerging technology in Australia at the beginning of the decade to a genuinely game-changing form of power that is cheaper than new coal or gas. It has exceeded the expectations of even the most optimistic predictions.”
~ Kane Thornton, Clean Energy Council Chief Executive, speaking at the Large-scale Solar Industry Forum in Brisbane on 15 May 2018 

» Below2C – 19 April 2018:
The Renewable Energy Potential is Limitless

» One Step Off The Grid – 12 April 2018:
Home battery storage has trebled – but should you be installing it?
“Battery storage uptake by Australian households is starting to take off. But is it a financial no-brainer? New analysis from SunWiz says … it’s complicated. If you care about return on investment, there’s some things you should know.”

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“Things are moving so fast. Most of us are so busy. This slide show offers one person’s precis-for-the-busy of the last three months in the related dramas of climate change, energy transition, big tech and the future of civilisation. I hope it is useful. For the powerpoint version, with source URLs, see www.jeremyleggett.net.”
~ Jeremy Leggett

Community fund their own energy

ABC Landline ran a great episode on community energy projects, which is well worth a look. Australians can watch it on iView on tv. Otherwise, try this link:

» ABC Landline – 7 April 2018:
‘People Power – Communities funding their own wind and solar projects’

“There are now 1.8 million households and businesses boasting solar rooftops in Australia, and that number is growing every week. Makes sense considering we live on the sunniest continent on earth! The rooftop revolution isn’t slowing down.”
~ Solar Citizens

In the energy sector, things are moving very quickly, an contrary to what the federal government is trying to make Australians beliee, the way to help people reduce their power bills is certainly not to build new coal fired power stations.

According to RenewEconommy cost – or perception of cost – is the top reason for Australian businesses to take up renewable energy or not.
RenewEconomy’s editor Giles Parkinson wrote on 19 July 2017 that the business community only slowly is waking up to reality that renewables are cheap:

“Consider these two propositions: The top reason cited by Australian business for using more renewables it that it costs less. The top reason cited by Australian business for not using renewables it that it costs more.

As Ivor Frischknecht, the head of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency observes, both propositions cannot be right. It is pretty obvious now that the right answer is that renewables cost less, but ignorance is hurting business, as well as Australia’s policy debate.

Less than half of Australian businesses – according to a new ARENA report – actually source any renewable energy at all, and when they do it assumes only a minor role…”

» One Step Off The Grid – 9 April 2018:
How I became the first SonnenFlat customer and got my electricity bills down to $0

Game changing free system solar plan

“This is a solar game changer! With the Free System Solar Plan you can have solar panels and a battery installed at your place for free, you just pay for the energy it makes at a low, fixed rate! Get along to one of the free info sessions starting May 14 to find out more. RSVP at bit.ly/GeelongCommunitySolar

Tony Seba: ‘Clean disruption – energy & transportation’

Tony Seba is a futurist from Standford University. In this one-hour presentation he compares the way cars and mobile phones were able to dominate within a very short time once they became cheaper and better than what they replaced. He believes renewables have passed that point and electric cars are approaching it. The power of economics means we will be 100% renewables by 2030, no matter what the Australian government tries to do. And electric cars will dominate soon after.
This is a presentation well worth watching.

» You can find more information about Tony Seba on his home page, www.tonyseba.com

World’s tech giants reach their 100% renewables targets

Google – the largest corporate renewable energy purchaser on the planet – and Apple both reached major milestones in the push to run their business operations entirely from renewable power sources.

Apple Inc said that it has achieved a decade-old goal of having its facilities world-wide powered exclusively by renewable energy, an achievement that will shift the company’s sustainability efforts to its supply chain, where about 10% of suppliers have made a similar commitment. The tech giant said it has improved to be 100% reliant on clean energy from 96% last year in part by contracting renewable energy for the first time in India, Turkey, Brazil and Mexico.

» The Wall Street Journal – 9 April 2018:
Apple Says Facilities Now Using 100% Renewable Power
“Tech giant will work with suppliers to encourage more use of renewable energy.”

» FastCompany – 9 April 2018:
Apple Now Runs On 100% Green Energy, And Here’s How It Got There
“The most important thing about the company’s big renewable push might be that it’s bringing everyone–from suppliers to local utilities–along for the ride”

» Green Tech Media – 5 April 2018:
Google Officially Hits Its 100% Renewable Energy Target
“The tech giant’s renewable energy purchases met — and even exceeded — the amount of electricity used in its operations last year.”

“A new report from the United Nations found that the world added more than twice as much generation capacity from renewables than from fossil fuels last year.”

» Reuters – 5 April 2018:
Solar power eclipsed fossil fuels in new 2017 generating capacity: U.N.

Volt Farmer: “Join the renewables revolution”

The energy company Volt Farmer is pioneering a local network of blockchain controlled clean and green energy farms on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria. A series of their small scale solar farms will providing locally produced, low carbon green energy and power security. On their home page they write:

“Imagine there was a way for everyone to be able to power their homes and businesses from clean, green locally produced energy. Volt Farmer has worked with industry leaders in solar, battery and smart energy management to create an opportunity for the Mornington Peninsula to prosper from the renewable revolution.

The pilot project will create a small scale solar farm connected directly to its customers using blockchain technology. This provides the test bed to trial a distributed energy production network rather than the traditional reliance on fossil fuel power stations in other parts of the State.

Stage Two will be distributed battery stations and localised eco-boost batteries in commercial and residential customer’s premises.
With solar technology changing so fast it is time to meet the future.”

» Home page: www.voltfarmer.com.au

» Facebook page: www.facebook.com/voltfarmer

» Canberra Times – 7 May 2018:
Solar microgrid to launch in the heart of coal country
“A virtual microgrid will be created in the the Latrobe Valley, exchanging energy generated from 200 Gippsland dairy farmers, 20 businesses and 150 households, powered by a decentralised, peer-to-peer blockchain energy trading platform called Exergy.”

“Today, fewer than one percent of the world’s vehicles are electric, but by 2040 more than half of all new cars will run on the same juice as televisions, computers and hair dryers, according to estimates by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Once cars and everything else are fed from the same source, they can share the same plumbing.”

» Bloomberg – 9 April 2018:
Your Future Home Might Be Powered By Car Batteries

» The Guardian – 12 April 2018:
World’s first electrified road for charging vehicles opens in Sweden
“Stretch of road outside Stockholm transfers energy from two tracks of rail in the road, recharging the batteries of electric cars and trucks.”

“Technology is quietly but radically disrupting and transforming how cities deliver services to their citizens. It does that in a way that fundamentally alters not just the mode of delivery but its underlying economics and financing. Here are the top 7 disruptive technologies revolutionizing service delivery in cities…”

» Medium | World Bank – 12 April 2018:
Top 7 disruptive technologies for cities

» FastCompany – 9 April 2018:
This All-Electric Plane Could Change Everything About Regional Air Travel
“Eviation’s Alice Commuter plane–the winner of the transportation category of Fast Company’s 2018 World Changing Ideas Awards–seats nine people and is entirely battery powered.”

Climate Council: ‘Roadmap to a Renewable Future’

The Climate Council has released a roadmap outlining how Australia can cut its rising greenhouse gas pollution levels, while continuing the transition to clean, affordable and reliable renewable energy and storage technology. The report features 12 key policy principles for any national energy and climate policy framework, including calls for the roll-out of a minimum 50–70 per cent renewable energy target across Australia by 2030.

Key recommendations:
◦ Australia must achieve a minimum of 50–70 per cent renewable energy across Australia by 2030.

◦ Australian climate and energy policy must accept the need for deep pollution cuts from the electricity sector in order to limit global temperature rise and tackle climate change.

◦ This means slashing carbon pollution from the electricity sector by 60 per cent by 2030, and ensuring that targets can be ratcheted up over time.

◦ Australia’s electricity sector needs plans in place to reach net zero emissions well before 2050. This is in line with National Energy Market state and territory commitments.

◦ To have any effect on carbon pollution (and not just add bureaucratic red tape), any NEM wide emissions target for 2030 and beyond must meet or exceed the total level of state and territory targets.

◦ A credible reliable climate and energy policy needs to encourage investment in new clean power supply – when and where needed – well in advance of coal closures, and not place reliability in the hands of ageing coal and gas generators.

» Download the report (PDF)

» Read more on www.climatecouncil.org.au

“At what point do politicians finally work out that the Australian Energy Crisis is not a crisis of reliability and affordability but a crisis created specifically by government to benefit the few? It is the sole responsibility of governments to work cooperatively on smart integrated solutions that benefit the community.”
~ Siegfried Angerer, senior consultant

Study: Climate action has beneficial economic impact

Since Paris unexpectedly set an ambition to limit warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures, researchers have been scrambling to understand what difference this would make, compared to the previously recognised limit of 2°C.

New research covered by Carbon Brief looked at this question in relation to economic growth. While the uncertainties are large, the study found that per capita GDP would be 5% higher by the end of the century if warming is held to 1.5°C rather than 2°C. It also found the negative economic impacts falling disproportionately on the world’s poorest.

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Businesses respond to the climate threat

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