Half price solar

As you produce more of a specific product – like a solar panel – the price comes down.

Is it really that simple? Over the last year, the price of a solar panel at the factory gate has come down by nearly 50%. From a US$4.20 cents per watt to under $2 and ‘still profitable’ is the finding from UK’s New Energy Finance company.

This positive news is however complicated by the market and global financial crisis. None the less, only a few years ago people installing solar electric power on their houses were calculating 20 to 25 year payback periods. For some the good news, according to the Boston Business Journal, is this payback is now only 5 years.

Picture: Solar power at the same cost as UK grid power by 2013

Ten times better

Factor Ten – is about making a ten-fold improvement in the use of energy and resources. It can also mean a 90 percent cut in your business or personal costs and its possible to achieve this today – possibly saving ourselves $9 out of every ten dollars.

The picture shows one example – LED downlights. Costing between about AUD 10 and 20 dollars per light, the lights use 2 to 3 watts each. A normal downlight would use 50 watts.

The lights shown in the picture will pay for themselves within 6 months. After this, it’s money in the bank. In addition they should last many times longer than an ordinary 50 watt halogen downlight. This saves you or your business the time and cost of replacing ordinary bulbs.

Of course the answer to climate change is not just about light – although the International Energy Agency finds we could cut global electricity consumption by almost 10% with similar changes. Nor is it (only) about changing light bulb jokes…. But it is a great illustration of profitable and meaningful change that delivers economic and environmental carbon advantages.

Kick The Habit

Clear simple communication really helps when dealing with a complex global problem like climate change. The United Nation’s book, Kick the Habit, is a great example with plenty of useful comparisons.

Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, launched the book. He says:

Addiction is a terrible thing. It consumes and controls us, makes us deny important truths and blinds us to the consequences of our actions. Our society is in the grip of a dangerous greenhouse gas habit. The message of this book is that we are all part of the solution. Whether you are an individual, a business, an organization or a government, there are many steps you can take to reduce your climate footprint.

Picture – examples of greenhouse gas emission amounts generated by different activities or goods. Pictures like this are throughout Kick the Habit.

A Climate for Change – Active Business Responses

In the world of hard climate science, carbon pricing schemes and emissions targets you could be forgiven for thinking that human attitudes are of lesser importance. Nothing is further from the truth. For example – Nicholas Stern, ex Chief Economist of the World Bank and author of the UK government’s seminal Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change highlights the importance of behaviour change. He emphasises:

Three elements of policy for mitigation are essential: a carbon price, technology policy, and the removal of barriers to behavioural change. Stern Review p.xxviii

Its one of the reasons I (Simon) am thrilled to win a scholarship for a Harvard, China and Australia joint climate change symposium. My excitement is not just for the event but also as it merges science with society. It recognises there is as much to be gained working with people’s attitudes, views and perspectives as with science, technology and pricing.

The humble light bulb is a great illustration. Look around you. In nearly any country you will see incandescent light bulbs or halogen down lights. As Amory Lovins puts it, each of these lights, remaining in its socket unchanged, is the same as walking past a $50 note on the pavement. But, for the last two decades while effective alternatives have been available, many people have nevertheless continued to walk past the light bulb.

Why? Read the full article here>>>