Remember back to when the music you listened to was down to which CDs were available in the shops, or which band you heard on the radio? Well now, since the birth of the Internet, we can discover almost any band or artist at lightning speed, and CD’s are about as rare as snow at Christmas.
We are living in the age of decentralisation, and it’s affecting everything from the music we listen to, to the energy we consume! Yes, energy is in a whole different... ahem... genre, to music, however something similar is happening to the way we get our electricity. And in this case, that something is called renewable energy.
A Renewable Power Shift
Across the UK, if you’re plugged in and using power, you’re most likely to be pulling juice from local and regional electrical grids, fed by large electrical stations. Between these stations and the watts being used to brown your toast, there are millions (and in some cases, billions) of pounds of infrastructure, tones of utility companies, complicated government regulations and a load of rules, taxes and pricing structures so dense you could make a raft out of them.
Compare this complicated chain to someone charging a laptop from roof-mounted solar panels — other than the cost of installation and the panels themselves, there’s absolutely no expense whatsoever for generating 100% of energy directly from the sun — a whole other kettle of fish right? We’ve heard plenty about the goal to get to 100% renewable energy, and now studies are showing that we could be close to that by 2030. And to do so, we’ll need a broad mix of energy supplies, including hydro, wind and solar powers. Add revolutionary battery-powered technologies into the mix (like Tesla’s PowerPack), and the idea of houses and communities generating all the electricity they need, without having to connect to the grid, becomes imaginable.
But Who Has Access?
Nearing ‘100% renewable’ will require big shifts in both energy production and government policies, however one of the biggest issues we face is to ensure that access to renewable’s is affordable for everyone.
And forward-thinkers, like non-for-profit organisation "Energy4All", are already working towards that goal. Energy4All understand the limitations individual households face in installing their own renewable energy sources and therefore they help communities up and down the UK in setting up renewables cooperatives. Be it a wind turbine or a field of solar panels, each project is owned by local people, who benefit from it’s outputs both financially and emotionally. The organisations successful combination of community involvement and ethical investment not only enables individuals to afford to disconnect from the grid, but also to do something practical about climate change... something we thinking we should all be doing!
Remarkable efforts are also being made across the pond, in California, where "SASH" (the single-family affordable solar homes programme) is helping low-income households to access solar technologies through both education and incentives.
All in all, whilst we keep the pressure on for reaching 100% renewable energy, we must keep an eye on how we reach that goal. Renewable energy is our springboard into a revolutionary future, so let’s make sure everyone is on board when we make that jump!