Cheap, clean, reliable and continuous electrons are not as elusive as we might think.
A new large scale solar electricity plant for Arizona, USA, shows the way forward. It will generate electricity by turning sunshine into heat and storing power overnight as molten salt.
It’s also competitive and big. Using South Australia as a comparison, the plant will generate about a fifth of Adelaide’s everyday basic electricity use. And the cost? In 6 years time, $115 per thousand units of electricity. That compares favourably with electricity from gas and also $120 for Adelaide power.
$120 was in the first 3 months of 2008, before any further inflation. It is also before a price on carbon pollution is introduced in Australia.
Sales of solar electricity systems to Australian households are growing exponentially.
The graph, from Australian government figures, shows solar electricity installation per month.
This growth is occurring despite the Australian government imposing a means test on its rebates. The test currently limits rebate payments to households earning less than $100,000 a year. It was introduced in an effort to cool what Peter Garrett, Australia’s Environment Minister, referred to as an overheated market.
In the middle of 2008, when the solar rebate means test is introduced, there is a momentary pause in growth but sales quickly expand again.
The results support reports from many in the solar industry. The industry says people on lower incomes, particularly pensioners, are willing to invest in smart green power. People will pay capital now for future savings.
436 billion US dollars and counting. This dollar figure is the global stimulus funding, according to HSBC, which is helping to address climate change.
Globally, nearly sixteen percent of economic stimulus expenditure goes to such green initiatives.
In Australia this figure is just over nine percent, China it’s nearly thirty eight percent and in the USA it’s close to twelve percent.
The latest 43 billion dollar Australian announcement, for a broadband network, is a good example of economic growth that can build a more sustainable economy. Communications are inherently more climate friendly than many other businesses. In Australia, the CSIRO shows every dollar spent on communications produces a third of the greenhouse gas than an average dollar across the whole economy.
This is part of a clean future. It is much easier to supply clean power for economic activities that pollute less.
And there’s a big future in clean business. Currently, renewable technologies drive 170,000 jobs in the German economy. By 2020 clean tech, say analysts, may be an industry rivalling or exceeding the information technology sector.
This then is the next industrial revolution – growth in clean technology and, significantly more growth in new and emerging low carbon sectors of the economy.