Some viewers of this piece might take umbrage at the frequent use of the term “climate change”.
Regardless of whether or not one accepts the reality of climate change, we can all agree, I hope, that renewable energy technologies, which do not spew endless quantities of the sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, fly ash and mercury that are produced by coal-fired electricity plants are environmental toxins that we’d prefer NOT to continue breathing and to have falling out, all around us.
And yes, such plants are the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the US.
Likewise, we can agree that we don’t actually prefer to have the radioactive leaks into our local groundwater, now occurring around virtually all US nuclear plants and set to continue, ad infinitum until we get rid of them – to say nothing of the spectre of 150+ Fukushimas melting down, simultaneously in the US, alone, which could become a reality, if threats from so many of our State Department’s newly-minted enemies, to detonate an EMP bomb over the Continent and to knock out our existing electricity grid were to succeed.
Our network of nuclear power plants are surely genocidal by design! Fukushima apparently hasn’t been enough of a lesson for us (turns out, the radioactive emissions during the first week after the earthquake were the equivalent of 800 Hiroshima bombs – and it’s not as if the Fukushima nightmare is over. I just don’t publish anything about it because it’s actually too depressing, even for me!). Perhaps the Apocalypse-waiting-to-happen of our crumbling nuclear power plants, all at the same time would drive the message home.
One happy outcome of the California drought is that it’s driving incentives and industries to finally establish renewable energies as the standard for the 21st century. This segment begins with dreary scenes of Porterville, CA, an agricultural town 160 miles north of Los Angeles and known as “Ground Zero” of the California drought, where the ground wells have run completely dry and where one farmer believes that locals will be forced to move north, to the neighboring states of Oregon and Washington, where water is plentiful in some areas.
However, many start-ups are capitalizing on the abiding abundance of California Sun. Software is making solar power one of California’s fastest-growing industries, employing over 55,000 people; more than Google, Facebook, Twitter and Apple combined.
Solar power now employs more people than the coal industry, US-wide and is expected to become a trilion-dollar industry in the years to come, with people powering their lives with sunshine, instead of coal or nuclear energy.
The Holy Grail is in improving energy storage, for those days and nights, when the Sun doesn’t shine. Again, start-ups are competing with each other to invent the best solutions.
One interesting start-up is Powerhive, which has set up solar panels to power small villages in Kenya, with tremendous success. Even people without bank accounts in Africa do have cellphones. They’re able to pay for their electricity bills using the various mobile money mechanisms, which are proliferating all over your app menus, if you check, from Samsung Wallet, Google Wallet and others.
As Sungevity Founder Danny Kennedy, a former Greenpeace Activist and Australian transplant to San Francisco says, “The future of electricity is not going to be done with coal, it’s not going to be done with nuclear – Steve, over here is out of the nuclear industry and he’s over here, engineering this software-hardware bundle to deliver solar power to people in Kenya.”