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The Side Effects Of Solar Power

 “Renewables are about to become our cheapest form of energy,” Wired UK observes. “We expect $7.4 trillion to be invested in new renewable energy plants by 2040 – 72% of the total spent on power generation worldwide,” reports Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Don’t believe them: How about Bank of America, who “see oil demand peaking by 2030 as electric vehicles boom.” Or Germany’s Mercator Energy, in Nature Energy, who suggest that photovoltaic solar power “could potentially provide fully half of global electricity by 2050.”

You can see it beginning to happen, and its repercussions beginning to hit, in America today. Tesla just signed a dealto sell its PowerWalls and solar roofs in 800 Home Depots. A few days ago in Maine, Central Maine Power responded to four Quakers protesting its opposition to a pro-solar-power bill by having them arrested for criminal trespass. I’m biased — one of the arrestees is a close friend — but it seems hard to interpret CMP’s response as anything other than pathologically dumb and counterproductive.

But what about the new solar-panel tarfif? you might ask. Won’t that be disastrous to the industry? Not so much. An annoyance, not a catastrophe; a speed bump in the way of exponential growth. As renewables guru Ramez Naam  (who’s putting his money where his mouth is) says:

Obviously this transition is extremely welcome — and obviously it won’t come without repercussions that will be negative for some people and some entities. You don’t upend the entire energy status quo without bankrupting a few dinosaurs.

The most effective way to become a dead dinosaur, though, is to kick angrily at the pebbles twitching on the ground, or to pretend that they’re not moving, because you’re wilfully blind to the fact that they’re harbingers of an unstoppable locomotive of change … until it’s too late to get off the tracks and evolve. Don’t be like Central Maine Power, or like whoever’s advising Trump on solar tariffs. Massive changes are coming. Stay ahead of the shockwaves, or, better yet, be part of them.


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