Carbon Crash Solar Dawn

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I think it’s time to call it. Renewables and associated storage, transport and digital technologies are so rapidly disrupting whole industries’ business models they are pushing the fossil fuel industry towards inevitable collapse.

Some of you will struggle with that statement. Most people accept the idea that fossil fuels are all powerful – that the industry controls governments and it will take many decades to force them out of our economy. Fortunately, the fossil fuel industry suffers the same delusion.

In fact, probably the main benefit of the US shale gas and oil “revolution” is that it’s keeping the fossil fuel industry and it’s cheer squad distracted while renewables, electric cars and associated technologies build the momentum needed to make their takeover unstoppable – even by the most powerful industry in the world.

How could they miss something so profound? One thing I’ve learnt from decades inside boardrooms, is that, by and large, oil, coal and gas companies live in an analytical bubble, deluded about their immortality and firm in their beliefs that “renewables are decades away from competing” and “we are so cheap and dominant the economy depends on us” and “change will come, but not on my watch”. Dream on boys.

Their delusion however, is good news for the world. If the industry really understood what was happening, it would pull out all stops to prevent it. While they’d ultimately fail, it would cost us decades of lost time – decades we can’t afford if we are to stabilise society and reduce the risk of collapse.

I intend to spend this year writing about these trends. They can’t be covered in a single column because they are so broad and interconnected. In fact this is perhaps the best example I’ve seen of system wide transformational change driven by parallel, apparently disconnected forces. Here I will provide an overview, with further reading, so you can more easily see the signals emerging around us. I’ll then dive into more detail over the coming months.

I think it’s important to always start with a reminder of the underlying context. As I argued in my book The Great Disruption, dramatic economic change is not a choice we get to make it, but an inevitable result of physical science. This is because business as usual, with results like ever increasing resource constraint or a global temperature increase of 4 degrees or more, would trigger economic and social collapse. So the only realistic outcomes are such a collapse or an economic transformation that prevents it, with timing the only big unknown. I argued transformation was far more likely and, to my delight, that’s what we see emerging around us today – even faster than I expected.

In parallel, we are also seeing the physical impacts of climate change and resource constraint accelerating. This is triggering physical, economic and geopolitical responses – from melting arctic ice and spiking food prices to the Arab Spring and the war in Syria. (See here for further on that.) The goods news in this growing hard evidence is that the risk of collapse is being acknowledged by more mainstream analysts. Examples include this commentary by investment legend Jeremy Grantham and a recent NASA funded study explained here by Nafeez Ahmed. So the underlying driver – if we don’t change in a good way, we’ll change in a very bad way – is gathering acceptance.

So while it now frames thinking in this area, the mistake many make is to then extrapolate that risk into a likely global policy response as the main driver of change. The thinking goes that we need a “Pearl Harbour moment” – a physical event that forces a global policy agreement to change.  As I also argued in The Great Disruption, that’s not how systems change or how our global market society works. Things are far more chaotic and messy – though ironically probably more predictable.

In that systems context, economics is the best lens through which we can both see the triggers for transformation and are able to measure its progress.  And let’s remember we care more deeply about economics and markets – at both the personal and macro level – than about polar bears or ecosystems. Crazy and irrational, but still true.

So when we see the price of solar plunge at extraordinary speed and watch it’s deployment swing like a wrecking ball through the utility sector, we should acknowledge it’s going to have more impact on the human system response to climate change than the terrifying acceleration of the melting of the Arctic.

And when I say wrecking ball I probably understate it. As this excellent overview from Stephen Lacey at Greentech Media explains, the utility sector now faces a “death spiral”, and it’s likely many of them won’t make it. This is not a theoretical future crisis – growth in renewables is the prime reason the top 20 European utilities have lost $600 billion (no, not a typo!) in value over the past 5 years.  That’s what the financial carbon bubble bursting in a sector looks like – ugly and messy – and there’s many more to come.

The utility death spiral is a great example of system complexity that is simple to understand. Solar energy costs have plummeted – so far that in most places you can get electricity cheaper from your own solar panels than you can from a utility. The impact on the grid of people doing so at scale is to lower the overall cost of electricity generation by reducing both peak demand (and so peak pricing) and lowering volume. Utilities are then stuck with expensive physical assets, less sales and lower margins, so they need to increase either the cost per unit of power or impose grid connection charges to customers. But doing either gives customers more motivation to leave the utility – thus the death spiral.

And the disruption is worse for old players because this is not just technology switching. The whole sector is moving to a distributed rather than centralised system, thereby inviting in countless new, nimble competitors into the space. This is fundamental structural change that is going global, as Giles Parkinson from RenewEconomy explains.

If you think this utility problem isn’t enough to seriously threaten the overall fossil fuel industry, then think again – this is just one of a number of fronts where they’re being hammered. Long term expert on oil and energy trends, Richard Heinberg, explains the oil story well in this podcast, while this excellent overview from Chris Nelder, shows how oil, gas and coal are all under serious pressure. Like Heinberg, Nelder also argues the “soaring cost of producing oil has far outpaced the rise in oil prices”.  Nelder also notes that in the US alone, 60 GW of coal power plants are expected to be taken off line by 2016 – double the volume forecast by the EIA less than 2 years ago. Things are moving very quickly now.

This is all just a brief insight into what’s happening and just touches on the complexity and interconnectedness of various disruptive trends.

I haven’t mentioned the revolution underway with electric cars, where Tesla is valued at more than half of GM – despite the latter producing 300 times as many cars! Do you think the market knows where that is going? Or the incredible impact of China having to clean up their air or risk economic and social unrest – knowing when China acts the market impacts are world scale.

Or the role of digital technology and dot com billionaires in driving disruptive change via the move to a distributed energy system – one characterised by rapid innovation and entrepreneurship and the arrival of the “Internet of Things”.  It’s in these connections between innovations that the most interesting disruptions are developing. So electric cars become grid storage devices for home renewables, with each car a mini-power station in peak times. I’ll never look at a city car park the same way again.

Already businesses in the US can get battery systems from Coda Energy to even-out grid power use and avoid peak pricing. With software monitoring the grid to know the highest value time to respond, it can be installed at zero cost then paid for by sharing the savings with the battery company!  And the solar industry is at last in boom times, with the HSBC’s Global Solar index up 65% last year and already up 23% in 2014.

It won’t be long before all these new players take on the old ones in a battle of “business vs business”, a moment I’ve argued was coming. Knowing how fast new technology players can sweep away slow movers, that will be an interesting battle to watch!

And all this brings increasing recognition by investors that the carbon bubble and stranded assets are serious financial risks, which in turn reinforces the growing power of NGO campaigns against coal and CSG along with their fossil fuel divestment campaign. Then of course there is the role of climate policy which, given the threat to civilisation, seems like it might gain traction at some point!

So, as I see it, the game is up for fossil fuels. Their decline is well underway and it won’t be a gentle one. Of course they won’t just be gone in few years but once the market and policy makers understand what’s happening, it will become self-reinforcing and accelerate rapidly. Markets come into their own in situations like this. They rarely initiate change, but once they’re racing down the hill, it’s time to jump on board or get out of the way. It’s an ugly and brutal process for those involved, but it gets the job done quickly.

When that occurs, we may find that those forecasts by myself and others like Tony Seba from Stanford University, that the oil, coal and gas companies will be all but obsolete by 2030, might turn out to be conservative after all. Interesting times indeed.

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49 thoughts on “Carbon Crash Solar Dawn

  1. Nick Sharp

    In your year of focus on these issues, would you care to use your many business contacts to see if you can tempt Elon Musk and co (Tesla of course) to view with interest a soon-to-be empty set of vehicle assembly lines and unemployed component firms to Australia’s south?

    Tesla has started at the very high end of new EVs, and seems to be doing well at that, but surely they will want to move down a peg or three, and start addressing the market for small, inexpensive, modest battery range (150km?) EVs that would suit (a) Australia’s crowed city roads and (b) export to similar situations in Asia.

    Some nice ideas for that:
    direct drive motor built into each wheel
    optional serial hybrid, whereby a fuel engine solely runs a generator when the battery gets low; v simple
    (free??!!) power points at work car parks to use up solar PV power at the best time

    Oh, and by the way, re those empty assembly lines; how about we tell the departing firms “leave the robots in the plants and the keys on the frig – we’ve paid you for them in govt grants several times over already, and your thanks=you just skip off”.

  2. Ric Steinberger

    This seems overly optimistic. While fossil fuels will be going away within the next few decades, it’s important to realize that renewable cannot take their place at anything close to current levels of consumption. We in the industrial world are going to need to consume far less energy – from all sources. We cannot expect to go from 10 KW of coal fired electrical supply to 10 KW of PV. The net energy (EROEI) on PV has recently been calculated by Hall and Prieto at a very low 2.45, and the batteries required for a typical US/AU suburban home would be extremely expensive and take up a great deal of space.

    Ultimately, we may rely on passive solar architecture, solar water heating, some modest amounts of wind and/or water power and very small amounts from solar PV. We’ll simply have to drive far less, and spend far more time producing food, clothing, well insulated shelter, taking care of the land, conserving clean water, processing sewage, making do with medical technology from decades past (no more MRIs and CAT scans).

    Just as important: there will need to be far, far less people because it’s fossil fuels that have made a world of 7+ billion, heading to 9+ billion by mid-century, even possible. A deteriorating climate makes it imperative that the human population drop substantially. Whether this is voluntary of involuntary (wars, epidemics, pestilence, famine, civil violence) remains to be seen.

    But overall: we need to use less energy, regardless of its source. That too can be voluntary or not. There is no alternative.

  3. Johann S.

    Ric Steinberger, I think you’re quite right that renewables cannot replace fossil fuels, even if they can wreak serious havoc on their current business models. Your conclusion that we all have to use far less energy is based on the assumption that we must use either fossil fuels or renewables. But this ignores nuclear. New generation nuclear power offer a real alternative – and indeed the only alternative – to environmental catastrophe due to overuse of fossil fuels, on one hand, and a dystopia of low (insufficient) energy on the other.

  4. Nice piece Paul,

    You may have come across the 2 Loops Model before, but I thought I’d share it with you via the Berkana Institute. It’s a model (so it aint the truth) but it a nice one to illustrate the point you make about emerging systems of influence that are rapidly taking over the fossil fuel industry. It comes from author and pioneering thinker Meg Wheatley – http://vimeo.com/17907928

    And your reference to bubbles reminds me of a piece written by Peter Senge where he says:
    “Senge also points out that a ‘real world’ belief system exists within the Industrial Bubble, just as it did with dot-com and sub-prime. Here’s a quote:

    “When financial bubbles pop, the same question is always asked: How is it that over expansion and collapse occurred yet again, drawing in otherwise bright and knowledgeable people?

    The answer is that during a period of overexpansion, two parallel views develop, one from inside the bubble and one from outside. Each perspective feels real to those who hold it. The more the bubble grows, the more people are drawn into the powerful reinforcing beliefs and perceptions it inspires. Eventually, those inside the bubble become so absorbed by its new reality that they can no longer understand the point of view of those outside the bubble.”

  5. Bill Bunting

    Johann and Ric,
    I think that you are both under informed. In my case thid year is my solar conversion year. I have put my order in for a hybride car to become available later in the year. This car has an 8kwhr battery 50klm range and a combined fuel range of 75o klms. My daily round trip home to work is 40 klms which I can do on battery only every day charging at night off peak for less than $6 per weak. I can akso charge at work from the solar panels (once installed) for nothing per day. The panels I am installing at home are combined solar PV and thermal (hot water) with battery backup that I am told has an 8 year life. I am installing the same at work. With this combination purchasing energy will become discretionary, with the exception of gas which I have installed for cooking only. I have a log fire at both home and work. Every family can do this change at a time when they need to upgrade one or more of their capital items (car, appliances, house extentions, etc).

    All of these changes are available today. It is simply a matter of making the choice, and then enjoying the improvement in both standard and quality if living.

    When every one has done this, the change nationally will have been made. Business also has all if these options available to them, more and less. It is not necesdary for absolutely every industry to change, most will do fine.

  6. Janet Rice

    Thanks Paul. We are in very interesting times that’s for sure, & I oscillate between feeling optimistic thinking of the possibilities as you’ve outlined above, and overwhelmed by the speed of change that’s required in order to avoid massive disaster fur humanity. The fossil fuel use embedded in agriculture is the one thing I see as being a huge issue that is going to require some changes currently not on the radar. Reducing population would certainly help.

  7. I work to show that tiny energy production is relevant. I was born in Ireland and from about 600 AD on there were water mills about every 5 km on the river slaney. I worked in one of them when it was converted to a feed mill but it was powered by electricity from who knows where. That is 1300 years of water power. Suddenly in about 1950 it was not viable any more. All that power just flowing to the sea! This is like bad money driving out good. We can use this type of power again. We have to. I now live on Vancouver island and just up the road, in a little town they lost a $7 million per anum shellfish business to ocean acidification. Young shellfish all dead due to low ph. The end is now. We can wait until it gets conducive to H2S bacteria but that is problematical for human life on earth. It is our choice. I use low tech systems to produce low pressure air and I can run greenhouse irrigation and even hydroponics and aquaponics with low pressure air. As low as 1 psi can pump water quite high. Brian

  8. Margaret

    Love the article, always love a bit of optimism!
    We are running a 20sq home with big screen TV, dishwasher, microwave, computers, fridge, freezer, food processor, juicer…… Etc on 8 190w solar panels with 6 125w batteries, (recycled from a commercial environment – read free) It can be done and it need not cost the earth, you just need to choose to get onboard. Cooking is gas and heating is sun on slab and wood. Electricity bills have not been a part of our lives for over 3 years and it feels good!

  9. I remember in around 1992 trying to explain to friends what the internet was and what might be coming as a result. What an amazing 22 years since,and much more to come. Innovation blossoms on a thousand fronts and confounds any attempt at central power, prediction or control. An internet of things and multiple power sources and automation controllers, the provision of small solar powered internet access to global education for a person in a grass hut, the sheer pleasure of “boys and new toys”, information on every little trick being shared with millions, skilled retirees working tirelessly at how to reduce their energy and living costs, ethical movements, teachers of Permaculture, universities all over the world researching how to make things more efficient and sustainable. None woking in how to use more fossil fuels :-) The educated young are impatient to move not just fossil fuels off the agenda of their future , but also people with fossil thinking. My 16 year old daughter would like the vote:-) The Stone age did not end by running out of rocks.

  10. Excellent Paul. We have only just started seeing the hints of disruption, which when it comes will be a “total surprise”, as was the GFC. Pundits predicted that for years, then it happened and the players said “wow, we never expected it”. The thing about statements like “it’s important to realize that renewable cannot take their place at anything close to current levels of consumption” is that As the guru’s like to say, “energy creates energy”. We are nearing critical mass.

  11. Starting around 1978, I began writing, editing, and publishing news, technical and general, on renewable energy. During the ensuing three and one-half decades, much progress has been made.

    However, many dead ends were encountered, tens of thousands of businesses failed trying, and an untold number of personal fortunes were lost.

    During all this time true believers said continuously that change was just around the corner. The fact remains that civilization is still a long way from resting securely on sustainable energy.

    My guess is that it will take another 40 years or so before significant strides can be seen. So the modern efforts to alter our energy consumption and production will have been underway for nearly a century.

    That’s about the right time frame predicted by the “fossil fuel” industry and other independent analysts. So it is important to keep striving.

    I will be long departed from this world, I hope gone to a better one.

  12. Ewan Briggs

    Fascinating, exciting! Great article. For some time now I’ve thought that sooner rather than later, solar will be so cheap that it’ll just be the way that we generate electricity.
    I’ve also been following the likes of Giles and Richard for a few years now, so it has been interesting to see these changes coming.
    What will also be interesting is to see how the Australian federal and state conservative governments get involved. It appears at the moment that they’re going to try (along with the incumbent utility and energy companies) to hold back the tide, which is a shame.

  13. Russ Day

    Paul – good article with exciting news. We’ve had solar hot water for 25 years and solar PV with battery backup for 10 years. Just added 5kw in back yard last year (snow covered for a few months). Have noticed 3 new solar rooftop installations in our neighborhood – so the idea is catching on. Agree with comments that even this will not be able to sustain our civilization’s style of living. A great change is in the offing. Regards, Russ

  14. Sage

    We could really use a carbon tax to make your hopes come true. The market alone does not include the cost of the disposal of the waste products of the fossil fuels.

  15. Get in early

    Great article Paul with some insights that should open some eyes. I look forward to your year of expanding on the detail.

    Policy makers will as always be irrelevant in the wake of rapid change. Don’t rely on politicians to save us all.

    If there is one thing that we can all do to assist the transformation it is to vote with our wallets. Anyone investing (anyone with influence over the share mix of their investments) should not hold shares in carbon based industries. We should all be investing our future!

  16. I lived off the grid for 30years so have walked the walk. I had a change of heart: http://sunweber.blogspot.com/2011/12/thruanotherlens.html I believe this is more realistic: This from an essay with diagrams and pictures of how we get copper, aluminum, glass, black chrome – the chemicals, heavy machinery, and industrial processes.

    http://sunweber.blogspot.com/2011/12/machines-making-machines-making.html

    MACHINES MAKING MACHINES

    Solar and wind capturing devices are not alternative energy sources. For the renewable devices – wind, photovoltaices, solar hot water, hot air panels – the sun and wind are there, are green, are sustained. The devices used to capture the sun and wind’s energy are an extension of the fossil fuel supply system.

    There is an illusion of looking at the trees and not the forest in the “Renewable” energy world. Not seeing the systems, machineries, fossil fuel uses and environmental degradation that create the devices to capture the sun, wind and biofuels allows myopia and false claims.

    Energy Return on Energy Invested (ERoEI) is a part of the equation. There is also a massive infrastructure of mining, processing, manufacturing, fabricating, installation, transportation and the associated environmental assaults. Each of these processes and machines may only add a miniscule amount of energy to the final component of solar or wind devices. There would be no devices with out this infrastructure.

  17. BlackVoid

    This is simply delusional thinking. Please study EROEI and energy in general before coming to false conclusions.

    There is no scaleable and affordable energy storage.
    We are currently transitioning from cheap energy to expensive energy (fossil or non-fossil, it does not matter). While some renewable energy sources are getting cheaper (solar), they still not cheap enough even to replace oil (not to mention useability).

    This will be a HUGE shock to civilization, because net energy is already on the decline.

  18. Leif

    I have waited a long time to hear the words you spoke Paul. Two Palms Up.

    The only just war is the “War” of the survival of Planetary life support systems and survival of as much planetary diversity as possible. I call it the “We All Win War,” WAWW. Starting with the bottom up. The poorest of the poor and closest to extinction first. The militaries of the world must transform themselves from a killing machine to a greening machine. If the Military oath to protect the Nation from threats both foreign and domestic has credence, no other choice is conceivable. Only then a budget appropriate for the task. A trillion+ $$$ spent yearly world wide will at last have some justification. A “survival” CCC program promoted to get folks off the street, shelterd with food, health care, skill training, etc. and in turn the world gets to build a Green Awakening Economy on the cheep. 100 % employment even in the third world as there is a roll for all in the survival of the species. Most will be thrilled to help. Terrorists will be obsolete. Humanity has Geo-engineered ourselves into this carnage. We can Geo-engineer our selves out but only if it is all hands on deck working for a common goal. SURVIVAL of one and all. Rationally! Start with the end of public subsidizing the pollution of the commons.

    Einstein said: “I do not know the weapons of WW III but WW IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”

    I for one hope that WW III will be fought with equality, justice, scientific understanding, and love. WW IV will be fought with sonnets.

    So Grab a hand. Make a stand Show GOPollutocrats who’s in command.

    Go GREEN. Resistance is fatal to Planetary life support systems.

    When People unite #Pollutocrats take flight.

    Leif Knutsen,
    Pacific North West. WA

  19. JonO

    We are all entitled to our opinion, but everyone must deal with the same facts. Your religious beliefs are interesting, but no more pertinent to the real world than those who claim Muhammed talked to Allah every day.

  20. Daniel Ferra

    We need sustainable energy policies, Ban Fracking and implement a California Residential and Commercial Feed in Tariff so our kids and grandchildren have a fighting chance to survive.

    Globally we are emitting 40-44 Billion tons of Green House Gases annually, here in California we emit 446 million tons of Carbon Dioxide a year, 1,222,000 Toxic Tons a Day.

    “Tell the California Public Utility Commission: No new dirty gas plants!
    Every year, more than 70,000 California kids are rushed to the hospital because they can’t breathe, due to air pollution in Calfiornia.

    Unfortunately the Governor and the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) are considering huge new gas-fired power plants to replace the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. Dirty gas plants will make our air, water, and soil, worse and just aren’t needed.

    We can’t sit by and let our air get dirtier and our kids even sicker, when we’ve got cheaper, cleaner, safer options like Renewable Energy.” Sierra Club.

    California, there is enough Residential Solar to power 2.25 San Onofres, couple that with a Residential and Commercial Feed in Tariff and we can solve some of these environmental and electrical generating problems.

    The Southwest is in the midst of a record drought, some 14 years in the making, which means the water supply for many Western states – California, Arizona, Utah, Nevada – is drying up. Last month the Bureau of Reclamation announced they’re cutting the flow of water into Lake Mead, which has already lost 100 feet of water since the drought began.

    What happens if the Southwest drought does not end soon ?

    Will we keep using 3 to 6 million gallons of Clean Water per Fracked well, to extract natural gas ?

    This petition will ask the California Regulators and Law makers to allocate Renewable Portfolio Standards to Ca. Home Owners for a Residential Feed in Tariff, the RPS is the allocation method that is used to set aside a certain percentage of electrical generation for Renewable Energy in the the State.

    The State of California has mandated that 33% of its Energy come from Renewable Energy by 2020.

    The state currently produces about 71% of the electricity it consumes, while it imports 8% from the Pacific Northwest and 21% from the Southwest.

    This is how we generate our electricity in 2011, natural gas was burned to make 45.3% of electrical power generated in-state. Nuclear power from Diablo Canyon in San Luis Obispo County accounted for 9.15%, large hydropower 18.3%, Renewable 16.6% and coal 1.6%.

    There is 9% missing from San Onofre and with the current South Western drought, how long before the 18.3% hydro will be effected ?

    Another generator of power that jumps out is natural gas, 45.3%, that is a lot of Fracked Wells poisoning our ground water, 3 to 6 million gallons of water are used per well.

    If Fracking is safe why did Vice Pres Cheney lobby and win Executive, Congressional, and Judicial exemptions from:

    Clean Water Act.

    Safe Drinking Water.

    Act Clean Air Act.

    Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

    Emergency Planning Community Right to Know Act.

    National Environmental Policy Act.

    “Americans should not have to accept unsafe drinking water just because natural gas is cheaper than Coal. the Industry has used its political power to escape accountability, leaving the American people unprotected, and no Industry can claim to be part of the solution if it supports exemptions from the basic Laws designed to ensure that we have Clean Water and Clean Air” Natural Resources Defense Council.

    We have to change how we generate our electricity, with are current drought conditions and using our pure clean water for Fracking, there has to be a better way to generate electricity, and there is, a proven stimulating policy.

    The Feed in Tariff is a policy mechanism designed to accelerate investment in Renewable Energy, the California FiT allows eligible customers generators to enter into 10- 15- 20- year contracts with their utility company to sell the electricity produced by renewable energy, and guarantees that anyone who generates electricity from R E source, whether Homeowner, small business, or large utility, is able to sell that electricity. It is mandated by the State to produce 33% R E by 2020.
    FIT policies can be implemented to support all renewable technologies including:

    Wind

    Photovoltaics (PV)

    Solar thermal

    Geothermal

    Biogas

    Biomass

    Fuel cells

    Tidal and wave power.

    There is currently 3 utilities using a Commercial Feed in Tariff in California Counties, Los Angeles, Palo Alto, and Sacramento, are paying their businesses 17 cents per kilowatt hour for the Renewable Energy they generate. We can get our Law makers and Regulators to implement a Residential Feed in Tariff, to help us weather Global Warming, insulate our communities from grid failures, generate a fair revenue stream for the Homeowners and protect our Water.

    The 17 cents per kilowatt hour allows the Commercial Business owner and the Utility to make a profit.

    Commercial Ca. rates are 17 – 24 cents per kilowatt hour.

    Implementing a Residential Feed in Tariff at 13 cents per kilowatt hour for the first 2,300 MW, and then allow no more than 3-5 cents reduction in kilowatt per hour, for the first tier Residential rate in you area and for the remaining capacity of Residential Solar, there is a built in Fee for the Utility for using the Grid. A game changer for the Hard Working, Voting, Tax Paying, Home Owner and a Fair Profit for The Utility, a win for our Children, Utilities, and Our Planet.

    We also need to change a current law, California law does not allow Homeowners to oversize their Renewable Energy systems.

    Campaign to allow Californian residents to sell electricity obtained by renewable energy for a fair pro-business market price. Will you read, sign, and share this petition?

    http://signon.org/sign/let-california-home-owners

    Roof top Solar is the new mantra for Solar Leasing Companies with Net-Metering which allows them to replace One Utility with Another, we need to change this policy with a Residential Feed in Tariff that will level the playing field and allow all of us to participate in the State mandated 33% Renewable Energy by 2020.

    Do not exchange One Utility for Another (Solar Leasing Companies) “Solar is absolutely great as long as you stay away from leases and PPAs. Prices for solar have dropped so dramatically in the past year, that leasing a solar system makes absolutely no sense in today’s market.

    The typical household system is rated at about 4.75 kW. After subtracting the 30% federal tax credit, the cost would be $9,642 to own this system. The typical cost to lease that same 4.75 kW system would be $35,205 once you totaled up the 20 years worth of lease payments and the 30% federal tax credit that you’ll have to forfeit when you lease a system. $9,642 to own or $35,205 to lease. Which would you rather choose?

    If you need $0 down financing then there are much better options than a lease or PPA. FHA is offering through participating lenders, a $0 down solar loan with tax deductible interest and only a 650 credit score to qualify. Property Assessed Clean Energy loans are available throughout the state that require no FICO score checks, with tax deductible interest that allow you to make your payments through your property tax bill with no payment due until November 2014. Both of these programs allow you to keep the 30% federal tax credit as well as any applicable cash rebate. With a lease or PPA you’ll have to forfeit the 30% tax credit and any cash rebate, and lease or PPA payments are not tax deductible.

    Solar leases and PPA served their purpose two years ago when no other viable form of financing was available, but today solar leases and PPAs are two of the most expensive ways to keep a solar system on your roof.” Ray Boggs.

  21. Great article. When will these observations really sink in and force change.
    Some counties are taking major steps for change with solar , electric vehicles and new technologies that eliminate airborne waste. Not enough is being done.

  22. David

    Over 95% of Oil is used for transport fuel (cars, trucks, ships, planes) and petrochemicals. No other energy source has anywhere near the energy density of oil transport fuels. Battery technology is improving rapidly and cars will move steadily to transition to electricity fuel sources (coal, gas and renewables). But it is going to be a long time before ships, planes (possibly trucks) and certainly petrochemicals move from oil. Bring on electric battery cars because we need them to extend the time oil is available for uses we can’t imagine what the future alternative will be. The age of oil will run out not when technology replaces it but when oil runs out.

  23. Alex

    I recently saw you on TV arguing that power companies in Germany have lost half their market-cap due to solar pushing down prices. But solar in Germany would not be competitive without massive subsides from the Government. In fact, because solar in Germany has made natural-gas power plants uneconomical, the energy companies there are closing gas-plants and reopening coal-fired power plants. These German energy companies are now even building new coal-fired power plants! If you want to tell people about German energy companies’ responses to solar, then tell them the whole story. Germany is currently going back to coal thanks to solar!! Very clever, keep pushing solar. The US Department of Energy recently reported that even in 2040 the world will still be using as much coal, oil and gas as we do now.

  24. Pingback: TRUTH TIME

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