“New developments in Japan and Rhode Island, and at electric carmaker Tesla, are advancing the clean energy revolution. Following the Fukushima disaster, Japan is replacing much of its nuclear capacity with solar power. Japan is now one of the world’s four largest markets for solar panels with a large number of power plants coming online, including two giant arrays over water in Kato City and a $1.1 billion solar farm west of Osaka. In a much-anticipated announcement that could change the way households use electricity, Tesla will introduce on Thursday a new product line of consumer home batteries. The battery systems can store power from the grid when rates are low late at night, and can be paired with rooftop solar so homeowners can store the power they generate themselves. And off the coast of Rhode Island, Deepwater Wind began construction on what will be the nation’s first offshore wind farm. Once completed, the five-turbine, 30-megawatt wind farm will produce enough energy to power all homes and businesses on Block Island, which previously relied on diesel generators.”
“Analysts are forecasting continued high performance for stock in SolarCity and for renewable energy generally. SolarCity stock gained as much as 4 percent after investment bank Credit Suisse helped finance a $1 billion fund that will be used to further accelerate the company’s expansion plans. The funding is the largest to date for SolarCity, which also just raised a $750 million fund, including $300 million from Google, which is expected to finance 25,000 residential solar panel installations. And the United States Energy Information Administration forecasts renewable energy will be the fastest-growing power source through 2040. New investments in renewable energy rose from $9 billion in the first quarter of 2004 to $50 billion for 2015’s first quarter, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, and the volume of installed photovoltaic systems in the United States has grown every year since 2000.”
Hawaii, China and Bill Gates are also jumping on the clean energy bandwagon. “Hawaii has the nation’s highest electricity costs, so to save money Hawaiians are installing rooftop solar systems at an unprecedented rate. Rooftop systems now sit atop roughly 12 percent of Hawaii’s homes, by far the highest proportion in the nation. Their ability to put surplus power back onto the grid is creating challenges, and big opportunities, for Hawaii’s largest utility. China, the world’s top renewable energy producer, added over 5 gigawatts or solar capacity in the first three months of this year, almost equal to France’s entire supply of solar power. And Bill Gates is backing a company that will compete with Elon Musk’s Tesla to produce a cheap home battery that will go beyond lithium-ion technology.”
Even the Pope is preaching this message! In his April 28, 2015 Declaration at the close of the Vatican’s summit on climate change, he announced: “The financing of sustainable development, including climate mitigation, should be bolstered through new incentives for the transition towards low-carbon energy, and through the relentless pursuit of peace, which also will enable the shift of public financing from military spending to urgent investments for sustainable development.”
So . . . what’s needed to complete the disruption? Google, which had aggressively sought to develop its renewable energy capacity, stopped its R&D program, concluding that “for clean energy to achieve real economic superiority, fossil fuels should be priced commensurate with the damage they cause.”
In other words, it has to make sense and cents.
I currently live in Qatar, where petrol costs less per liter than the same amount of bottled drinking water. The only way to complete the transition to 100% renewable energy is to internalize the true cost of fossil fuels, from phasing out national production subsidies and tax exemptions to putting a price on carbon emissions and thereby more accurately signaling to consumers the true costs of this product choice. Only then will we do what we have to do.