Saturday, January 28, 2017

Shifting Electricity From Consumer To Producer

Imagine you are in a room with a car that is running. There are no windows and only one door but it is locked from the outside. You can’t get out. We know the outcome is not favourable.

Now take this idea and picture yourself in your home. If you live in a big city, think about all the air pollution that surrounds you every day. Pollution from vehicles and factories and other sources. Can you get away from it?

Do we want to continue increasing pollution by having deadlock on highways and city streets or do we want clean air to breathe and a better environment to live in? The way to do this is to make every building in this country responsible for producing electricity from renewable resources and encouraging the use of Environmentally Friendly Vehicles.

As our government leaders approve pipelines to move oil and solidify the use of fossil fuels in our countries we need to look at other ways to replace fossil fuels. Fossil fuels run vehicles and heat our homes. They give off 98% of the carbon dioxide in the air. We have other ways to run our cars, heat our homes and produce materials without polluting our air. They are all available but not highly recognized at this point in time.

In Canada 18.9% of its energy comes from renewable resources. Only 13.2% of electricity generation in the US is from renewable resources.  That means a whopping 86.8 percent is from non renewable resources. That is like saying in the room mentioned above that the only breathable space is around the door. We know that is not helpful.

The move towards using renewable resources has been picking up speed. Albania, Iceland, and Paraguay obtain essentially all of their electricity from renewable sources. Sweden wants to eliminate fossil fuel usage within its borders, and is immediately investing in solar, wind, energy storage, smart grids, and clean transport. Costa Rica aims to be entirely carbon-neutral by 2021. Nicaragua is to be 90% fossil free by 2020. In Scotland wind power produced the equivalent of 97% of the country’s household needs. Uruguay is now 95-percent powered by renewable energy. Denmark got 42% of it’s power from wind turbines in 2015. The country aims to be 100% fossil free by 2050. in 2014 China had the most installed wind energy capacity and the second-highest installed solar PV capacity. China is also phasing out coal and cleaning up its polluted air. The largest concentrated solar plant on earth is in Morocco. This will provide half of Morocco’s electricity by 2020. In the US a NOAA study estimates that they could reduce emissions by 80% without impacting consumer electricity costs by using more renewables. As of 2015, Kenya generates 71 percent of its electricity with renewables.

Given the fact that fossil fuels are the largest problem with pollution and climate change on the planet there needs to be a larger push for renewable energy sources to become the dominant player in the market.

Much has been said about the ineffectiveness and unreliability of using renewable resources. Most of the arguments against using renewable energy on a large level are produced by hydro companies or oil companies. Both are afraid of losing their role in the marketplace as producers. Movement towards renewable energy on a large scale would require politicians to take a stand on the topic and move barriers out of the way. Existing infrastructure would not need to continue to grow if each building produced electricity to support even a part of their needs. At the moment the only barrier are the high costs, which put it out of most people’s grasp.

Even with the high costs we should be moving forward. As hydro rates rise we need to provide the consumer with a feasible alternative that will cut their costs. Who would not like to heat their own home, heat their own hot water or provide electricity for all of their appliances and send extra hydro back into the system? Who would not like to drive electric vehicles (EVs) that burn no gasoline and have no tailpipe emissions. Every building should be producing electricity from renewable resources.

As seen in countries around the world the shift to being fossil free is moving forward. In many countries it is not happening on a large scale. Governments need to get behind the idea. By having every building in a country producing electricity would go a long way towards ending our reliance on fossil fuels. Governments need to make a strong commitment with clear decision making. They must acknowledge the problems and be willing to step away from the rhetoric that is put against being fossil free. There must be a supportive regulatory environment that will help foster and develop renewable energy resources in every community. Every building should be required to produce their own electricity using renewable energy. There must be a strong partnership between the public and private sector. Costs must be reasonable.