I’d rather have a border wall than the Green New Deal

Let me be clear: I think the border wall is a terrible idea. It is a huge waste of money and has become symbolic of values which completely contravene American ideals. It even contravenes “conservative ideals”. Do you think Ronald Reagan would have liked a border wall? I strongly doubt it.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has called fighting climate change her generation’s “WWII”. I agree. In part. If we don’t prevent catastrophic climate change, our way of life could cease to exist. Which would be bad. Note however that a potentially mortal condition says nothing about the effort needed to cure the problem. If you get rabies and don’t treat it, you will die. 100%. The cure, however, is a few shots and then problem solved.

Preventing catastrophic climate change is obviously gonna take a bit more than a rabies shot, but a WWII style mobilization? This is what Green New Deal (GND) supporters want you to swallow whole, but is their solution the best, or even a credible, way to solve the problem?

If we want to save the planet, first we should get the objective straight. The strict version of the GND espoused by the Sunrise Group states: “We’re fighting for a just transition to 100% renewable energy within 12 years — the time frame set by the world’s leading climate scientists”. 12 years (ie 2030) is indeed the time frame set out by scientists in a UN report. But not for 100% renewable energy. It’s the time frame to cut emissions by 45% from 2010 levels. It does not say our energy sources need to be renewable. If someone developed a cheap way to reduce 95% of coal and tailpipe emissions, then 2030 deadline solved. But if you’re a hardcore GNDers: not renewable, verboten! It is likely that renewable sources like wind and solar are among our best options to solve climate change. But it is also likely that some forms of pollution reduction or a 5% dirty fuel could help. If you truly fighting a war, you do not remove these options for fixations on some airy ideal.

But it gets worse (the GND that is). Even if we don’t limit our choice of technologies, getting emissions down by 45% in 12 years is going to be a formidable task on a tight schedule. It would make sense to concentrate our efforts on the goal and not waste energy on other things. Like jobs. Should we, as a society, try to make sure people have means of support? Yes absolutely. But that has nothing to do with climate change. If the best way to solve climate change involves creating jobs, great. If it involves job destruction, then…let’s worry about jobs in 2031. Or in separate legislation. Because if we don’t solve the climate problem and fry the planet, jobs really aren’t gonna matter. Ditto for “to promote justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future, and repairing historic oppression of……….”. An admirable goal which we should be thinking about as a society. But separately, in a way which doesn’t distract from the climate goal. When we fought WWII we devoted all our efforts to solving the problem, defeating Germany and Japan. We did not say hmm Stalin’s gonna be a problem down the line, so we might as well go after him too. And Franco. Had we done so, it would have been catastrophic. The full-fledged GND runs the same risk.

It gets even worse. War sometimes requires questionable weapons and in times of great peril, foregoing them is a very difficult decision — think the bomb. The GNDers go one step further, however, and want to marginalize very effective, very non-WMD type pollution control mechanisms, i.e. prices and markets. The latest from AOC softens the stance and allows for a small, non-central role to carbon taxes. But as detailed here, it should be front and center.

What little progress we have made on controlling emissions to date has been driven ALMOST EXCLUSIVELY by markets and prices. This has been lucky: the cost of wind, solar and gas has gone down, while the cost of coal has stayed stagnant. Had this been reversed, we would be polluting more. However there’s a very easy way to make markets work: add the cost of pollution back into the price. This can be in the form of tradable emissions permits (cap and trade) or carbon taxes. Both work and the nice thing is that you can set them to levels consistent with the 45% goal and just let the (much maligned) human self-interest work. Uneconomic polluting energy sources become unprofitable so self-interested corporations shut them down. Conversely, technologies which can cut emissions become very profitable, so greedy corporations rush to invest in them.

Don’t believe prices work? Think back to 2008. Gas prices skyrocketed. Consumers responded by foregoing SUVs and moving closer to work. US consumption of petroleum products dropped by 5.8%, the largest annual decline since 1980 (any guesses what happened then?). And because prices work, carbon taxes work. And cap and trade works.

The real elephant in the room — which would ground the GND even were it at all realistic — is that the US is becoming less of the emissions elephant in the room. That would be China, India and the developing world. It will be difficult to get them to get their emissions down. But not impossible. Rising middle classes are clamoring for less pollution and governments are at least paying lip service to cuts.. An efficient market solution in the US could serve as a beacon. A hugely expensive set of bloated blathering policies at cross-purposes to the actual solution will just create confusion.

Silver bullet efficient clean technologies would make the task of climate control much eaiser. It has been suggested that the real spending should not be on jobs etc, but on researching the type of cheap clean technologies which would lessen the burden on the third-world. While some of the large dollops of government spending might end up like Solyndra, given the seriousness of the problem that’s probably an acceptable cost (as mentioned before, setting the cost of pollution high enough through market mechanisms will also have this positive effect on research).

Which leads us to the Real Green Deal:

  1. Enact robust carbon taxes and/or a cap and trade system without loopholes
  2. Get rid of dirty energy subsidies (these do the exact opposite of what carbon taxes do) and other regulations/barriers which entrench traditional energy sources
  3. Use some of the carbon tax/cap and trade revenue on clean technology research (yes revenue not huge bloated costs we need a class war to fund)
  4. Share technology and create incentives for the developing world to join a system of carbon taxes/tradable emissions permits

Simple. Efficient. No class war needed.

Not the stuff to inspire gaggles of hyperventilating volunteers to support your next campaign. But it’s a plan that actually might work. 3) will be the hardest and not under our control. But without 1) and 2) to set an example, 3) will be much less likely.

That Silly Wall

In the hopefully unlikely case that the border wall does get built, I expect a wiser future generation (or the next administration) to tear it down and the history books will record how silly it was. Silly, but correctable. If, however, we let the GND misdirect our climate efforts and fry the planet, we may not have the luxury of history books anymore.

Saudi Aramco lifts spending plans to $414B over next decade

Saudi Aramco plans to raise its spending to $414 billion over the next 10 years, including on infrastructure and drilling, as the state oil giant moves into new businesses, executives said.

The spending plan is higher than Aramco’s projection last year of around $334 billion by 2025, as the oil producer has been expanding its businesses, the company’s chief executive Amin Nasser said on Tuesday. “We are into so many sectors now,” Nasser told reporters on the sidelines of an industry conference aimed at promoting the kingdom’s industrial base and the manufacture of a bigger share of products domestically. Saudi Aramco’s plan includes $134 billion to spend on drilling and well services and $78 billion to maintain oil output potential, Nassir Al Yami, general manager for procurement, told a conference in Dammam.

Aramco has already created a department for renewables to develop wind and solar projects and last month it signed a preliminary deal with petrochemical producer Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) to build a $20 billion complex to convert crude oil to chemicals. The project, which the partners said would be the largest crude-to-chemicals facility in the world and the first in the kingdom, are part of the Saudi government’s effort to diversify the economy beyond exporting crude. The kingdom’s “Vision 2030” economic reform plan aims at ending its reliance on oil and to stimulate the domestic non-oil private sector. Its centrepiece is a plan to sell up to 5% of Aramco in an initial public offering (IPO) next year.

Saudi Aramco outlined a plan known as In-Kingdom Total Value Add (IKTVA) two years ago, aimed at doubling the percentage of locally produced energy-related goods and services to 70% of the total spent by 2021. “Saudi Aramco is expected to spend more than 1 trillion Saudi riyals over the next decade. That has not changed, and we still want to see 70% of those riyals being spent locally,” Nasser said.

Supporting the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is a main part of the IKTVA drive and Saudi Vision 2030, which would help create over 40,000 jobs and could add around 30 billion riyals to the kingdom’s annual GDP, Nasser said. Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) said in October it is creating a 4 billion riyal ($1.07 billion) “fund of funds” to support SMEs.

Source: Reem Shamseddine and Rania El Gamal for Reuters

Opportunity for Change: PG&E and California’s Energy Future

A very interesting opinion article was published in the San Francisco Chronicle today entitled “Don’t let PG&E’s perfectly good bankruptcy go to waste”.

Given the trials and tribulations faced by California’s largest Investor Owned Utility over the last decade, this is a very provocative title and article. The fact that it was written by Mark Ferron (commissioner on the California Public Utilities Commission from 2011 to 2014, member of the Board of Governors of the California Independent System Operator from 2015 to 2018), and Lorenzo Kristov, Ph.D. (principal in market and infrastructure policy at the California Independent System Operator from 1999 to 2017) lends credence to the perspectives given.

While nothing can change the tragedies that have occurred, from the San Bruno explosion to the horrific wildfires of 2017 and 2018, the current bankruptcy that PG&E is in does create a unique opportunity for change. As Mark and Lorenzo point out, “We first need to dispel the notion that California needs PG&E to achieve our goals as a global climate-action leader. That claim makes two false assumptions: That PG&E as structured today is capable of fulfilling the need and that there is no alternative. Such a notion also diverts the policy focus away from the question of how best to achieve urgent state goals and focuses instead on how to save the status quo.”

Over the last decade we also have examples of how government bailouts have ultimately performed in the US, with banking and the auto industry. Of course, there are many arguments on all sides, but the what-ifs are compelling.

California regulators and other key stakeholders’, primarily municipal and county governments, have the chance to rewrite the rules and create the energy infrastructure needed for the future. If, as Mark and Lorenzo suggest, the state assumes some of the massive liabilities burdening PG&E, they have a stake in the restructuring.

We know that California’s future brings decarbonization and electrification, that decentralized generation and storage are key, and that the current distribution business models are broken. As I have previously written, the state’s support for the creation of Community Choice Aggregators (CCAs) has, in my opinion, only made things worse. The CCAs reduce the customer connection from the distribution providers and create an additional layer of management and coordination. As the CCAs do not own any infrastructure and operate as non-profits, it makes driving any programs like community solar+storage, community EV infrastructure, and other programs very difficult. Further, the Net Energy Metering program (now NEM 2.0), initially designed to promote residential solar installations, now could be viewed as an additional inhibitor to new energy trading models that support distributed energy and peer to peer exchanges. The CEC/CPUC are set to review NEM 2.0 in 2019.

So, let’s seize this opportunity to make bold changes that will lead the way to a new energy paradigm. Along with the state agencies, California’s municipal and county governments can play a key role — by demanding a lead role in electric distribution and management, including community energy assets (generation, storage, EV charging) and control (micro-grids, resiliency), these entities can solidify localized vision and implementation. Some municipalities, (e.g. Sacramento, LA, Santa Clara, Palo Alto) already manage their own electric utility, and in most cases have lower rates than PG&E. Others, such as San Francisco, have recently stated they are looking at options for taking over the PG&E infrastructure in their districts.

Given that PG&E’s territory includes Silicon Valley, there is no shortage of high-tech companies that could be leveraged for their support, technical and social. There is also no shortage of viable energy technologies that can support new models and changing realities. This even includes technologies that could address some of the problems that landed PG&E in this position. We know that global warming is real, and that changing weather will continue to result in extreme wildfire risks. Technology exists that can automatically sense the current disruption in an overhead conductor and cut power to it before it hits the ground. Advanced machine learning and new sensor data from devices such as micro-PMUs can detect changes in other key infrastructure assets and predict failure before it happens. Of course, implementing this tech on a large scale is expensive. The current regulatory frameworks make this type of investment difficult.

California does have a bright future, but we must pull together to forge the path forward and not be afraid to make real change. Perhaps San Francisco should take the lead and form an alliance to pull together like-minded municipal governments. Perhaps leading tech companies such as Google, Apple, Intel and Salesforce that call California home should take a stand. I hope that the current CPUC, CEC and CAISO leadership are listening to Mark and Lorenzo.

PYLNT/BTC hits on Bit-Z Exchange 22 Dec (09:00 CET)

PYLNT/BTC hit on Bit-Z Exchange 22 Dec ( 09:00 CET )

To all current (or wanna-be)Pylon Token-holders!

We are delighted to announce a very-much-anticipated update regarding Pylon Token (PYLNT).

BitZ Exchange has confirmed that PYLNT deposit will be opened at 9am CET, on the 22nd December.The exchange pair will be
PYLNT/BTC and the the initial price on the exchange is set at 0.00031342 BTC / PYLNT. When the total deposit of PYLNT on bitz, reaches 20BTC, then the exchange will open — and PYLNT will be free!

Bit-Z links

Web: https://www.bit-z.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BitZExchange

Telegram: https://t.me/bitzEN

Sincerely, Pylon Team.

Announcing The Weight of Light

What would a world powered entirely by solar energy look like? How will a transition to clean, plentiful energy transform our values, markets, and politics?

As solar and other clean renewable forms of energy are becoming (read: already are) our most cost-effective options, and in the face of rapidly escalating climate chaos, we need to consider more than just whether or in what timeframe we need to shift away from fossil fuels. We need to be thinking carefully about how to design this global shift to solar and other clean energy sources: Where will energy infrastructure be built? How centralized or dispersed should it be? Who will own solar panels (and other clean-energy generators) and benefit financially? Who will make the rules? What will all of this energy infrastructure look like: could it be beautiful? Who will build and maintain it? Where will the dead solar panels and other waste go?

To answer these questions and more, today we’re publishing The Weight of Light: A Collection of Solar Futures, a book of science fiction stories, essays, and art exploring a variety of possible visions for our solar future. The book is free to download, read, and share in a variety of digital formats (so, go grab a copy now!).

The book started germinating at a workshop in Tempe, AZ on April 30 and May 1, 2018, at ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination. (The workshop was hosted in collaboration with the Quantum Energy and Sustainable Solar Technologies Engineering Research Center and the School for the Future of Innovation in Society.) We divided participants into four teams, each focused on a different scenario for the future of solar energy in terms of geography and size: One group focused on big, centralized solar plants in rural areas, and another on big plants in urban areas. A third focused on small, decentralized solar installations in rural areas, and the fourth on small installations in urban areas. We also encouraged each group to take on board a few other variables of their choice — things like aesthetics, ownership, storage, and supply chains.

Each team included a science fiction author, a visual artist, and a few experts, representing both technical expertise (engineers) and know-how with the social and cultural aspects of energy systems (historians, political scientists, futurists, etc.). The teams worked among themselves, and with our editors, both during the gathering and in the weeks and months after, to produce a short story, a piece of visual art, and one or more essays that consider the messiness of energy systems in human societies and ponder how we might get from today to their group’s imagined future.

Our hope for this project is to expand the conversation about the wide array of possible futures that we can build together with clean energy. As we work to reduce our collective carbon footprint, we also need to consider issues of equality and make the energy transition a force for progress and universal well-being, not just swapping out one resource for another.

We also want to inject some drama into the public discussion about solar power. Infrastructure doesn’t always seem like the most enthralling topic, but it’s woven into every aspect of our lives, from our living rooms and kitchens and our buses and trains to our libraries and schools and our stadiums and theme parks. We believe in the power of fiction to take the abstract and distant and intimidating and put it in human terms: hope, love, betrayal, heartbreak, thrill, nostalgia, disappointment, joy, yearning. We hope that The Weight of Light is the start of a whole rush of energy fiction, to help us navigate this titanic transition with empathy and solidarity and care.

Energo Labs Attends Blockshow Asia 2017 in Singapore

Energo Labs was invited to attend and exhibit at a booth at the Blockshow Asia 2017 conference hosted in Singapore from November 29–30. Highlighting the importance of blockchain technology in several industries, the two-day event provided a platform for blockchain companies from around the world to demonstrate their applications and exchange information about the uses of the technology.

Energo Labs was one of the few companies present at the event to integrate blockchain into the energy sector.

The Energo team also took this opportunity to have meetings with several strategic partners in Singapore and discuss potential projects. Singapore will serve as a regional hub for Energo Labs, to bring together resources for research, projects, and partnerships on blockchain and energy.


Originally published at blog.energolabs.com on December 4, 2017.

Power grid and wind turbine inspection software “Sterblue” enters United States market

(COO Nicolas Draber, CEO Geoffrey Vancassel, CTO Vincent Lecrubier) Image by: Antoine Monié

French start-up, Sterblue, is officially open for business in the United States and has big plans to re-invent the world of energy infrastructure inspections in the U.S., starting in California. Sterblue has developed a software for drones to inspect power grids and wind turbines automatically.

Over the past four years, Sterblue’s co-founder and CEO Geoffrey Vancassel (formerly an aerospace engineer with Airbus) has worked diligently with COO Nicolas Draber, CTO Vincent Lecrubier, and the rest of the Sterblue team to develop the cloud-based software and gain a strong presence in Europe, the Middle-East, and Africa. To date, Sterblue has executed inspections for nine utilities (including Innogy SE Group, EDP, Elia, and Enedis) in eight different countries and is already realizing the need for the improvement in the marketplace.

“The momentum we have gained in Europe and other countries has been great to prepare us for entering the United States”, explains Geoffrey Vancassel.

The Sterblue platform uses a combination between a complex 3D flight planning software and artificial intelligence algorithm to execute on its two-fold value add proposition.

First, the 3D flight planning software allows off-the-shelf drones (for example, DJI) to autonomously fly above, and around power lines, covering 100% of the asset. This is a massive upgrade from traditional inspection methods, such as helicopters or humans on foot.

Once these photos have been uploaded into the Sterblue cloud, the company’s proprietary artificial intelligence software will label issues such as corrosion, bent bars, leading edge erosion or any other physical issues existing on power grids and wind turbines throughout the world. The AI software will become more sophisticated over time, as more use cases come through the platform.“ The ability for our software to effectively and efficiently label these inspection photos will save thousands of man hours for our partners over time”, explains Geoffrey Vancassel.

Not only is the Sterblue software more efficient, accurate, and safer than using helicopters or humans, it is ultimately much cheaper as well.

With the recent wildfire issues in California and the states massive electrical infrastructure, Sterblue has chosen to focus its effort in the west for the time being. “We are absolutely interested in working with utilities outside of California, but have more than enough opportunity with SDG&E, SCE, and PG&E to keep us busy and focus our efforts for the first part of 2019. We now have an operation and sales team based in Los Angeles supported by our tech team in Europe”, says Geoffrey Vancassel.

Although Sterblue has yet to launch its first project in the United States, it is only a matter of time before U.S. utilities begin to notice the positive impact on their bottom line, and their overall inspection efficiencies moving forward.

About Sterblue

Sterblue builds software that helps drones to inspect wind turbines and power grids automatically. Sterblue is currently working with nine major utility companies in eight different countries. Sterblue software guides drones along trajectories that wrap tightly around structures, finds anomalies from the collected images and outputs reports. The whole process is automated and triggered by the click of a button using off-the-shelf drones, doubling productivity as compared to manual solutions, while improving reliability. Sterblue was created in 2016 by three aerospace engineers and is based in Nantes (France), Los Angeles (US) and Lisbon (PT) https://www.sterblue.com/en/

Energy saving lamps! Are they really saving energy?

Compact Fluorescent Lamp. Photo by Nelson Simfukwe

In Electrical systems, Power Factor(P.F) usually tells us the condition of an electrical current/voltage waveform, alongside with an amount of phase shift. An analysis of P.F is achieved by taking the ratio of Real Power(consumed by a load in Watts) and Apparent Power in particular electrical circuit(measured in Volt-Ampere). Power Factor value pledges a verdict to the power quality of an electrical system, low power factor leads poor quality of power on a system whilst high power factor entails a great power quality in an electrical system. Power Factor is dimensionless value ranges from zero to unity.

On a global scale, 10% of the electric energy generated worldwide is consumed for lighting purposes in households. Modern technology in different disciplines of engineering advocates a multitude of techniques to improve energy efficiency, various policies have been introduced globally. Just as an example, by 2030 a target of at least 32.5% of energy improvement is sought to be reached in Europe. One of the actions being taken is phasing out inefficient light bulbs such as traditional incandescent lamps and replacing them with energy saving lamps(ESL). Whilst improving energy efficiency, ESLs have some consequences that pose negative effects on the mains(utility grid). These lamps are fitted with converters(rectifiers) that are non-linear, making ESLs behave as non-linear loads. Non-linear loads are famously notable for drawing a high amount of distorted current from the mains. This distortion is caused by the presence of harmonics, currents or voltage that operate at multiple of the fundamental frequency, occurring when a non-linear is connected to the mains.

As priorly mentioned, low power factor is inconvenient to the power system. As lesser as the power factor gets to be, as much as there will be the presence of harmonics which accompanies high levels of Total Harmonic Distortion(THD). Harmonics cause power losses in terms of I2R, shortening of electrical cables lifespan, reduction of ampacity alongside with the proneness of EMI to the electrical network. The tendency forces utility company to supply roughly 1.5–2.0 times more apparent power(kVA) in order to overcome this effect and that tends to inflate the costs of generation and transmission.

With nascence of smart lighting technology, ESLs such as CFL and LED lamps are becoming more prevalent in factories, offices, households and street lighting purposes. This mass scale demand for such lamps creates an adverse effect on the power utility supply system. Some Chinese manufactured ESL have power factor as low as 0.45, on the contrast, as the manufacturer performs best on the design of the ESL in order to improve the power factor, say 0.9, there have to be some additional costs that make the lamp to be sold expensively. A large number of consumers don’t care about the power factor of ESL, they are only interested to purchase economic ESL that cater their needs of providing an adequate amount of luminance and energy saving capability.

On the mitigation of the problem, manufacturers might consider maintaining the standard design of the ESL but advise that, on a mass scale fitting of these lamps, a single or more compensation circuit(s) should be installed in order to improve the overall power factor. Yet, that poses a huge disturbance than relief. Because the additional system will require revision for maintenance too often, and that costs more. Best choice for tackling the problem needs to focus on the design stage of the lamp as some researches suggest. The proposed design should facilitate the potentiality of higher harmonics cancellation and lower THD. Also, it needs to achieve aesthetic appearance, safety, and uniformity of lighting patterns.

Wind turbine listening device prepares for commercial launch

Final trials of listening devices that monitor the health of wind turbines and use satellite communication to transmit data will take place in the coming months ahead of a commercial launch mid year.

Adelaide-based startup Ping was awarded an $A170,000 Australian Government Accelerating Commercialisation grant last week to help trial, upscale, connect and launch its device on domestic and international markets after six years in research and development.

The Ping Monitor is a world-first application of aero-acoustic analysis to help continually detect wind turbine blade damage.

It has the potential to replace or reduce drones and maintenance crews that routinely inspect wind turbines, sometimes long after a problem has occurred.

An initial, portable, Ping Monitor was launched in September 2018 but a new solar-powered version that is fixed magnetically to the turbine pole about two-metres above ground or sits off the ground alongside the turbine will be launched mid year.

The 2.0 version will also benefit from a collaboration between Ping and South Australian IoT satellite communications company Myriota, enabling the acoustic monitor to transmit data into the cloud from almost anywhere on Earth regardless of cellular network connectivity.

A Ping Monitor version 2.0 and associated solar panel will use magnets to affix to turbine towers.

There are about 400,000 active wind turbines in the world with blades up to 80-metres long that spin up to 300km/h.

Ping CEO Matthew Stead said pilot trials of the updated monitor are being conducted in Australia, the United States and follow extensive version one trials last year that tested analytics and fault detection algorithms.

He said the South Australian company had already generated interest among a number of local investors.

“What we are doing is dramatically different, it’s continuous sound wave monitoring so it’s definitely exciting times — it’s going to be a big year.

“We’re calling this an Intelligent Listening Platform and what we mean by that is our device can be applied to a whole range of scenarios such as surveillance, listening for aircraft or drones you don’t want to be there and monitoring for the presence of predators such as wild dogs on farms.”

The key piece of technology in the patented device is the algorithm that can rate the health of the turbine based on its acoustic signature on a scale of one to five and monitor changes over time.

Stead said there were 3800 blade failures globally per year causing up to $5 billion damage.

He said sources of damage included lightning strikes, hail, sand, rain, wind and accelerated wear in coastal environments.

“We’ve seen some sites where they’ve got damage that they didn’t know about for a year or another site hadn’t been inspected for three years — you don’t really want the damage getting worse over time,” Stead said.

Fellow South Australian startup Myriota has been scaling up since it was spun out of the University of South Australia in 2015 and last year raised $15 million through a Series A funding round, with Boeing HorizonX Ventures among the contributors.

It launched its fourth next generation nanosatellite on Spaceflight’s SmallSat Express mission aboard Falcon 9 in December.

Myriota last month announced a collaboration with another Australian company to connect mass-market water-level sensors to its low-cost earth-to-satellite transmission technology, enabling farmers to receive water level data direct to their mobile phones.

Ping has been part of the first cohort of the Venture Catalyst Space program run by the University of South Australia at its Innovation & Collaboration Centre.

Stead said he hoped to move the company to Lot Fourteen, a former hospital site in the centre of Adelaide that is being transformed into an entrepreneur and defence hub, alongside existing tenants Myriota and the new Australian Space Agency.

South Australia has been a major player in the nation’s space industry and is home to major Tier 1 defence companies and several emerging space start-ups, including Fleet Space Technologies and Southern Launch, which is establishing a launch facility in the state’s north.

The Hidden Benefits of Solar Powered Energy

Are you a solar-powered energy user? Have you considered adopting solar as a source of power for your home or business?

If you answered “yes” you’re in good company. According to a recent report from the International Energy Agency, electricity generated from the sun is the fastest growing source of energy in the world.

“Solar power was the fastest-growing source of new energy worldwide last year, outstripping the growth in all other forms of power generation for the first time” The Guardian

Free, renewable and clean are some of the most compelling benefits for converting to solar- powered energy instead of traditional fossil fuel-sourced energy. While those benefits are just some of the factors driving a surge in solar installations, there are many hidden benefits that merit attention.

The hidden benefits of solar sourced energy were clearly spelled out in a recent report by the Institute for Energy Innovation. The report was created in an effort to educate policy makers attempting to manage rapid changes taking place in the power grid. Those changes reflect the move from the historical centralized source of energy generation to a grid that encompases distributed generation (DG).

“Driven by declines in the cost of solar components, greater competition among solar installers, and growing familiarity with solar DG and its benefits, national solar DG has expanded by more than 50 percent annually over the last four years” Institute for Energy Innovation

The Institute for Energy Innovation’s report is titled Solar Energy in Michigan: The Economic Impact of Distributed Generation on Non-Solar Customers. While the report merits an in-depth review by those involved in the energy industry, the jargon and acronyms make it a bit overwhelming for those already sold on the “free, renewable and clean” aspects of solar powered energy.

The list below is an attempt to convey the report’s valuable information (without jargon or acronyms) detailing the many hidden benefits of solar:

  1. Improved Reliability — when Hurricanes Irma and Maria destroyed the power lines on the island of Puerto Rico the vulnerability of a centralized grid was graphic. One story from the island clearly illustrates the improved reliability associated with generating energy at distributed or on-site locations: “While his competitors wait for diesel to restart generators knocked out by Hurricane Maria, flower grower Hector Santiago is already back in business because of solar panels powering his 40-acre nursery in central Puerto Rico.”
  2. Reduced Demand — facilities or homes generating all or most of their electricity on location will use less energy from the grid. Any reduction in overall grid demand for electricity results in a reduced need for building additional expensive power generating plants.
  3. Less Wasted Energy — when electricity is transmitted along power lines there is loss that naturally occurs. The greater the distance from the source, the greater the loss. Think of it as attempting to water a garden using a garden hose with holes in it. The amount available at the end is less than the amount produced at the source. The U.S. Government estimates 5% of the energy generated for the national grid is lost during transmission. When electricity it generated on-site the waste is kept to a minimum. Less waste equals lower cost of electricity.
  4. Improved Resilience — resilience is the ability to recover quickly. Imagine being told it will take four to six months before electricity is restored after a storm! When energy is produced in “distributed” locations, instead of at a single source, there is less vulnerability and an increased capacity to recover quickly.
  5. Predictable Energy Costs — electricity generated from burning fuel (oil, gas, coal) reflects a cost related to the price of the fuel. If fuel prices increase the cost of electricity has to rise. Because solar does not require fuel, the resultant cost of the electricity is not subject to fluctuations and the resultant cost of energy is predictable throughout the life cycle of the equipment.
  6. Clean and Quiet Communities — because the operation of generating electricity from the sun doesn’t create smoke or use noisy machinery, the choice for solar is a proven advantage for communities concerned about health.
  7. Clean Jobs — solar is driving a dramatic growth in “green collar” jobs. These jobs require advanced skills and offer a premium wage due to their technical nature. According the the United States Department of Energy “The solar workforce increased by 25% in 2016”

“In the event of a giant storm like Maria, microgrids and smaller-scale electricity generation would have made it more difficult to decimate the entire system.” Green Tech Media

To paraphrase one of the conclusions from the Institute for Energy Innovation’s report, the growth in distributed energy, represented by multiple solar generating installations attached to the electrical grid, helps reduce the overall costs and risks of centralized energy production and distribution. It represents an overall net benefit to society.

“the growth of solar DG systems in most cases helps to reduce overall costs and represents a net benefit to all utility customers.” Institute for Energy Innovation

When the many benefits of solar powered energy are clearly understood, it should encourage both private and public decision makers to do everything possible to promote the adoption of solar. Even without an understanding of all the benefits of solar, a rising demand coupled with plummeting costs makes solar energy one of the preferred sources of generated energy today and into the future.