We have done stories on the rise of solar before but these were based on growth in installations in Germany, Bloomberg predictions and the amazing reductions in the pricing of solar. This is something else entirely -- the cold, hard, impersonal hand of the market is now making the case for the rise of solar.
While some might turn their noses up at the current economics of solar thermal hot water systems less developed countries without our huge natural gas grid are jumping all over the opportunity. China has by far the most installed capacity with 117,600 megawatts of domestic solar thermal hot water systems as of 2010.
It's one thing for SolarShare to get $3 million worth of solar projects going in Ontario under that provinces feed-in tariff program but it's quite another thing altogether to start a community solar program in small town Alberta with no government support. And yet that's exactly where some pretty amazing green energy innovation is occurring.
The Ancient Pueblo peoples got free heating and cooling at the Mesa Verde cliff dwellings in what's now Colorado and they did it without electricity, insulation, natural gas, air conditioning or modern building techniques. Contrast that with modern homes built in Edmonton, Vancouver or Toronto today.
China's aggressive push to "green" its economy and become the world leader in renewable energy is admired by many commentators in the West. Those admirers need to look again; after years of over-development in the face of decreasing demand, China's renewable energy market is on life support, barely kept alive by government subsidies.
Soon, it won't make sense to not have solar on your house, on your office or on any spare building that faces South. It's simple math. The cost of electricity is going up while the cost of solar is going down. Way down. Thirty-five years ago a watt of solar photovoltaic power cost $75. Now it costs $0.75.
With the right technology, solar energy can be stored during the middle of the day and shifted for use whenever it is needed. In remote microgrid and island grid systems, PV energy generation combined with energy storage can become the primary source of power, relegating diesel generators to a back-up role and resulting in an energy ecosystem that is more reliable, sustainable and affordable.
I don't know anything about bulls, and bears, candlesticks or hanging men, but as a resident of the Middle East I can testify that green technologies make nations and communities proud to be part of them. Green technologies make places better. Solar projects change people too: they bring jobs, and sweep away pollution. They give security to people without energy security.
I believe that women entrepreneurship will not only give a boost to the economy by increasing the number of employed people and leading towards a more gender-equal growth. Not being financially independent is one of the main factors that prove as a hindrance in self-empowerment of women, especially in patriarchal societies like India.
Any socially transformative movement gets to a point where it needs to be fully embraced by the people it impacts. The green power movement within Canada is at just such a point. The past decade has seen an increase in the number of options available to Canadians to support renewable energy -- often associated with a premium cost to the consumer.
Earlier this month the Fraser Institute published a report sharply critical of one of the flagship policies of the Ontario government, namely the Ontario Green Energy Act (GEA). Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli dismissed it out of hand. What makes the Minister's response most disturbing is that it is so disconnected from reality.
The T'Sou-ke First Nation developed a community plan that led them to build the largest solar photovoltaic project in B.C. and cut their energy use by 75 per cent. With this vision in place the T'Sou-ke tackled the challenge of energy self-sufficiency with gusto. A few years ago they installed 75-kilowatts of solar PV on several buildings.
If Alberta devotes even a portion of the brains, money and time it devoted to turning the oilsands into a useable resource to doing the same with solar, we might be onto something. Alberta has certainly taken a lot of black eyes for the way it develops its non-renewable resources, developing it's other greatest natural resource might be a way to address them.
To Warren Sarauer putting a solar electric system on his roof was a no-brainer but when some innovative electricity retailers in Alberta decided to offer almost double the going rate for his exported solar energy he was ecstatic. Sarauer is a big solar energy supporter - through his company Evergreen and Gold Renewable Energy he puts renewable energy systems into people's homes. But last year he tackled a project that would set an example for his clients, he built a net-zero office.
When it comes to solar panel manufacturing the laws of supply and demand may as well be Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. Just ask the former president of one of the largest solar photo-voltaic module manufacturers in Canada. He's an affable, friendly guy who got started in the solar industry 24 years ago.