Wednesday, February 22, 2012

scaling up renewable energy

I've been reading a lot recently about the concerns over scaling up renewable energy. New Hampshire sized pieces of land might have to be used for wind farms to produce just a small portion of our current electricity needs. Importantly, scaling up wind production to that scale will have negative ecological effects (birds and bats routinely get killed in wind turbines) and might even alter the energy balance on Earth!  

Again, the 'number' problem rears its ugly head.  We simply have to produce too much energy to support current populations and lifestyles.

However, this realization tells us that we must focus on those sources of energy that are truly renewable and solar is the biggie here. 

But what happens when we fill our deserts with solar panels? What happens when we build large-scale solar plants?  

Why not create a distributed energy system by ensuring that solar panels are on everyone's roofs? This is an idea that must be incentivized, and quickly, for several reasons. 

First, it builds in resilience.  Creating resilient communities is important because they will protect us against larger-scale crashes.  

Second, it uses existing real-estate rather than taking otherwise good (or valuable) land and converting it to an industrial solar array.  

Third, it sends an educational message:  we're all part of the solution.

Discussion Topics
What would it cost to get solar panels on your roof?  What impediments are there to doing this?  

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