Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Changing Times

Renewable Energy World had an article this morning that caught my attention.  The gist was that we have all the proof we need of man made global climate change and all technical tools we need to fix it.  Implementing these fixes won't reduce our standard of living; to the contrary, our collective way of life would be better in a clean energy economy.  For a number of reasons, however, solar hasn't gained the traction that it needs to be a robust industry and we are far from gaining the critical mass necessary for clean energy to dominate the total energy landscape.

Why?  I think the following reasons are part of the total answer:
  • Fear of change in the popular mind
  • Corrupt politicians on the take from lobbists
  • Procrastination
  • Nefariousness cabal of fossil fuel executives working for their own benefit to the detriment of society
  • Ignorance of the complete cost-benefit profile of clean energy vs traditional energy
  • Lack of inspirational leadership to point us down the right path
  • Catch-22--we don't know how it will work because no one has implemented it and I want to wait for proof
We're at a societal crossroads now.  Economic issues are forcing our hand even before environmental ones have.  Either way, moving to clean energy is the right path as generation costs from dirty sources continue to swing widely and increment upwards.  Brace yourself for a rocky ride and don't fight the trends.  Flexibility is the key but so is recognizing that today's world will look vastly different than tomorrow's.

Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone
If your time to youIs worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'.
Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won't come again
And don't speak too soon
For the wheel's still in spin
And there's no tellin' who
That it's namin'
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin'.
Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside
And it is ragin'
It'll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'.
Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin'
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'.
The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin'
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin'.
- Bob Dylan The Times They Are A-Changin'

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Change Happens Faster Than You Think

Maybe not the father of solar energy but a tremendously influential and critical thinker .

“There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.”
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

I came across this quote today while watching a TED talk about the speed of change we are now seeing in human biology from both intentional and unintentional sources.  A case can be made that we may be an entirely different species of animal than we are today in only a few generations.  It's a fascinating lecture about evolutionary biology, and it sparked a connection in my brain to the state of solar today.

Solar energy development appears to be following this dictum.  Massive changes are happening in the business almost on a daily basis.  The speed of change is so fast that it makes it difficult to comprehend it or make accurate predictions or plans for the future.  In all probability, we will have an entirely new energy infrastructure in less than a couple of decades.  How this might happen or what shape this new energy system will take is still far from certain.

In the face of uncertainty, don't lose hope--focus on the basics. Work to continually improve your general health and intellect.  Study your industry and market.  Engage with customers and suppliers.  Think about the major issues you face on a daily basis and try new things.  Solar energy will win because it's the energy source that got us to where we are today. It's now the time for us to become more a little more sophisticated about how we harness it and much more intentional about how we apply it.