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article imageOp-Ed: Scotland proves large scale community renewable energy works

By Paul Wallis     Jan 1, 2017 in Environment
Edinburgh - The fight for basic energy has taken a new twist with news from Scotland that they’ve increased local renewable power owned by communities. That is a big deal, and they’ve already exceeded their 2020 target, too.
The good news for the environment and people’s pockets is that this high-viability approach works as well, or better, than expected. Currently, according to the Energy Saving Trust report 2016 locally sourced power in Scotland generates enough energy for 300,000 homes. The current generation is based on 15,570 local sources generating 500MW of power. 1GW of power would power half a million homes.
The anti-renewables hysteria
The problem, as usual, is a shiftless, outdated mindset and some pretty lousy economics. Renewable power generates another type of energy, too; resistance to it.
In Australia, going off-grid, with subsidies, was a great success. Excess energy could be resold to the grid. In the great Australian tradition of keeping overheads high, meanwhile, conventional power on the grid prices jumped astronomically. The renewables grants tapered off quickly, some were closed down, and the scheme became confusing, at best. Also typically, Australia’s energy companies are themselves investing heavily in renewables. It’s the standard case of a visible benefit getting an instant negative reaction.
Also true to Australian tradition, people kept right on installing solar, etc., because it was saving them money upfront. This is a fairly straightforward example of the negative global reaction from “governments” to efficiencies and cost-savings. In America, regulation of renewables, has been holding back renewable power. According to Harvard Business Review, despite the fact that renewable energy employment is generating jobs 12 times faster than the rest of the market, regulations are costing the solar industry alone $70 billion more per year. A morass of outdated rules are further complicating matters for consumers, with picky definitions regulating piddling amounts of power generated by renewables, notably solar, and other bureaucratic absurdities.
The first photovoltaic road surface in the world.  By combining the techniques of road construction ...
The first photovoltaic road surface in the world. By combining the techniques of road construction with those of photovoltaic production, Wattway supplies clean, renewable energy, under all types of vehicle traffic.
The scenario is the usual global situation: Antiquated (to put it mildly) systems and stakeholders are blocking high value cost-savings. It’s not really stopping renewables, but it is slowing down the added values of renewables entering the economy. It’s lousy economic policy, but it panders to the usual suspects.
The great no-brainers of renewable power
Scotland has made a point about scale relative to community needs in no uncertain terms. It proves the dazzlingly obvious points about renewable energies, the real no-brainers:
1. Renewables cut costs of living for everybody.
2. Renewables cut overheads for business.
3. Renewables are infinitely sustainable.
4. Renewables have very low environmental impacts
5. Renewables reduce air pollution, which kills about a million people every year and contributes greatly to respiratory diseases. (The whole planet is smoking roughly the equivalent of 5 packets of cigarettes a day, but what the hell, it’s only people, right?)
6. Renewable cost efficiencies are increasing on an almost daily basis.
7. New storage capacities will multiply the values of renewables.
These facts aren’t even debatable. The genie isn’t going back in the bottle, and whoever exploits these technologies will make trillions.
The air in Delhi is so bad you can taste and smell it.
The air in Delhi is so bad you can taste and smell it.
Twitter #DelhiSmog
The carbon industry, in its geriatric, politically-addled daze, is meanwhile overlooking values for its own products:
1. If you use carbon for anything but combustion, it’s an infinitely more valuable resource. Turn oil and coal in to graphene, and the value per ton increases drastically. Graphene oxide in solution sells for about 99 Euros per 250 ml. The price of oil per barrel is about $50. The same applies to just about all other modern carbon compounds, and is religiously ignored by the ancient garbage dumps running the oil and coal industries.
2. The carbon sector has a limited lifespan in its current form, whatever happens with renewables. Failure to adapt and upvalue carbon products will destroy asset values, while simultaneously letting in competitors with better technologies and market opportunities for more advanced products.
3. Raw materials markets tend to penalize commodities at the slightest excuse, manipulating margins on a routine basis. The finance sector, in fact, makes more money out of these commodities than the producers. That’s another lethal issue for the carbon sector, hitting it where it’s most vulnerable to the production/contract sale values. Closing coal mines is one of the typical examples of real issues for the sector, and the picture is looking pretty grim.
When the current energy market tanks, which it seems determined to do, the only game in town will be renewables. It’s only a matter of time.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Energy Saving Trust report 2016, Scotland renewable energy performance, Solar power, US regulation of renewable energy sources, Harvard Business Review
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