In 2010, the 6.8 billion human inhabitants of Earth went into “ecological overshoot.” This means that the human species consumed natural resources faster than they could be replenished. In that year, we devoured 40% more resources than the Earth’ ecosystems can provide.
The impact of our over consumption of renewable and non-renewable resources affects all aspects of Earth sustainability – climate change, pollution throughout the ground level ecosystem (air, land, water, oceans), forest and vegetation loss, and hyper-accelerated biodiversity and species decline to name a few. The more we continue to grow the population using old world infrastructure and methodologies, the less sustainable Earth becomes. At a forecasted population of 9.2B inhabitants by 2075, human sustainability becomes dire.
In his landmark book, “The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight”, author Thom Hartman points out that the number of humans on Earth remained fairly constant until the 1800’s when discovery and use of fossil fuels allowed population migration to colder climates, resulting in accelerated population growth. When graphed, population growth in recent decades is a straight line up from that point. As we now know, the burning of fossil fuels has been a large contributor to Earth’s rapid degradation and is a key challenge to address.
“We simply must balance our demand for energy with our rapidly shrinking resources. By acting now we can control our future instead of letting the future control us.” President Jimmy Carter, 1980 Clearly, the future he was concerned about is controlling humankind.
My commitment is to the efforts underway to minimize the challenges to a Sustainable Earth for future generations. In particular, my urgent focus is in making solar photovoltaics (PV) a key part of the global clean energy generation portfolio that can support a growing population.
PV is a mature (approaching $100B in revenues), low cost, clean energy solution which can be deployed as a base load energy source in the form of large regional solar farms or distributed energy generation on residential and commercial roofs and lands. Incoming solar photons are the most abundant renewable resource at our disposal. PV is an economical and scalable PV technology to efficiently utilize this free renewable resource while creating an entirely new economic ecosystem in the global business environment for the next 50 years and beyond.
PV products benefit from a 40+ year technology development history resulting in high value products which have a strong energy return on energy invested (EROEI) profile of less than 2 years. PV module power generation features no moving parts, requires minimal maintenance, has a 25+ year useable life and has no ongoing, unstable fuel costs. Solar photovoltaic energy installations are now highly bankable with strong returns for the finance entities.
Unique to solar energy generation, high power output is close to the peak load shape of the utility grid when it is most stressed in the afternoon timeframe. The addition of energy storage significantly increases the value of solar energy in the late peak load shape in the evening hours. PV can be deployed in large “utility scale” installations or be highly effective in distributed generation, utilizing rooftops and land close to urban centers and existing transmission and distribution lines. Notably, recent PV price declines and performance increases are enabling retail cost “grid parity” (same price as grid supplied energy on your home utility bill) in over 60% of the United States by 2015.
This site is dedicated to the accurate promotion of photovoltaics (PV) as a key component of the clean energy portfolio, which will solve the many pressing energy and environment problems facing current and future generations. I have provided a glossary and other resources about the industry on right hand side of this blogs home page.
Energy generation of any type is complex, with numerous variables to consider when discussing the merits of each for a given application. On the blog page of this site, I offer opinions, insights and news in an attempt to deconstruct the complexities of PV and give an accurate view of the many product types, applications and benefits.
“The economy and the environment are the same thing. If it’s un-environmental, it’s un-economical. That is the rule of nature.” Mollie Beattie, former Director U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, United States Department of the Interior