Renewable Energy Is Our Future: Eric Martinot at TEDxTokyo

Renewable Energy Is Our Future: Eric Martinot at TEDxTokyo

like all of you I've been deeply affected by the Fukushima accident but I'm here to tell you today that Japan does not need nuclear power that renewable energy can provide the same functionality the same reliability and the same support for Japan's economy that nuclear camp we're just not thinking about this in the right way our thinking about renewable energy is from 1995 not today 2013 our thinking is out of date with the reality of where renewable energy markets policies investments costs and technologies are today and where they're going in the future I've been working in the field of renewable energy for the past 25 years really since the very beginning of the industry itself I started as an engineer for the Power Company Pacific Gas and Electric in California and I worked on one of the very first large-scale solar power plants in the world and I looked at that plant and I said that is the future in 1989 when I was 27 years old I went to a lecture at the Holiday Inn Hotel in San Francisco by a very famous energy and environment expert John Holdren and he told us we're running out of time well that was 1989 we were running out of time we're certainly running out of time today at that time I decided to devote my entire life to seeing the world powered by renewable energy in the future so I became an expert a global expert in renewable energy I got a PhD in economics and policy I worked for the World Bank I've taught at several universities I wrote 70 publications on renewable energy the last two years I've been intensively looking at the future of renewable energy I traveled around the world and I interviewed personally 150 leading experts and industry executives and I asked them the question how do you see the future of renewable energy and I also looked at the results of thousands of pages of energy scenarios and I put all that together into a 40 page synthesis called the ren21 renewables global futures report and you can find a copy on the web you can download it there's also in a Japanese translation now this is probably the most difficult thing I've ever done probably also the best so in writing that report I was struck by a number of myths about renewable energy that persists here in Japan today that are simply not true it's a myth that renewable energy will never achieve high shares not true countries around the world today are planning shares between 30 and 80 percent of their electricity in the future California 33 percent Germany 50 percent in the next 20 years Denmark a hundred percent in the next 20 years even developing countries many developing countries are now planet planning high shares of renewable energy Japan right now is is stuck at 10% it's a myth that investment in renewable energy will never reach high levels not true investment globally today is 250 billion dollars per year in renewable energy that's more than the world invests in fossil fuels and nuclear power combined so renewable energy is now the majority of investment globally in the power sector you were probably shocked to learn that and projections are that this will reach 500 billion dollars in the next 10 to 15 years it's a myth that we can't balance the variability of wind and solar power on our power grids not true yes energy storage is necessary but there are so many other options there are dozen other options for balancing the variability of renewables on power grids without resorting to expensive energy storage it's a myth that business opportunities for renewable energy only exist in wind and solar manufacturing companies not true I was shocked to see all of the business opportunities for today's existing companies for power companies for automakers for oil companies for building material manufacturers and for information technology companies IT companies it's a myth that renewable energy is too expensive not true the cost of solar panels is now one-third of what it was just four years ago and we're seeing an explosion of solar power around the world that places where the cost of solar power is no more than retail electricity prices without any subsidies wind is becoming competitive in many places in the u.s. with gas and coal we're just not thinking about the comparisons to cost comparisons in the right way it's our thinking that makes renewable energy seem more expensive not the technology itself so I've been here in Japan for five years now I've been living here and like into Asia I lived in China first I came to Asia in 2005 because I saw Asia leading the world in renewable energy Japan China and other parts of Asia and I wanted to be a part of that I wanted to contribute to that when Fukushima happened of course it was a tragedy but I also saw it as an opportunity now things can really start to change I thought and Japan really could become a leader in renewable energy globally but today Japan only invests one-tenth as much as the United States in renewable energy so what can we do well we can buy green power that's a movement a trend that's happening around the world many people are buying green power and you can read about that on the web there's a lot of information resources you can certainly put solar panels on the rooftop solar is now a lot cheaper than it was even just a couple of years ago I lived in Toccoa actually here in in Tokyo and when I ride the Chuo Line train and I look out on that sea of rooftops and I imagined to myself a solar panel on every single rooftop that you can see and I think in ten years from now if we see a rooftop without a solar panel on it's gonna seem strange to us it's gonna seem almost naked somehow we can engage in community development of community power and heating systems that micro grids and solar heating for groups of buildings and homes we can engage in citizen owned wind farms they're examples of all of these around the world and we can learn from books and from movies there's a really interesting book that was published last year in Japanese called let's start a revolution in renewable energy there are a variety of movies and I have some links on my website if you go to there there's a particular movie called power to the people that's coming out this year that's dubbed in Japanese and I think that's a very interesting title power to the people reminds me of what we used to say in the 1960s and it has a different meaning now but power to the people I actually grew up in the 1960s around hippies and that was that was a whole I remember that phrase back then power to the people there's a fundamental problem however that we're going to face utilities utility companies utility grids utility industries are gonna have to change in the coming years their business models their ways of thinking the whole structure is going to have to change and people are waking up to this they're realizing this in Europe and the United States we can't keep going the way we're going there is going to have to be a transformation Japan's electric power sector Japan's utilities have really not changed at all in the last 50 years Japan's utilities are practically dinosaurs in in comparison to utility companies around the world today and we don't see the changes happening here so it's really important that the next thing that happened here in Japan is that we see restructuring new policies new regulation new industry structure new forms of business models here in Japan in the power sector otherwise renewable energy is simply not going to happen in large sales this is the fundamental problem that we're facing here in Japan as well as around the world in Germany today or last year there were days when solar power provided 50% of the total daytime power during peak times of the day solar power is providing 50% of the power in Germany that Germany is going to have to deal with that they they're facing change is necessary in their power sector their power companies today right now so we need to find a way here in Japan to bring democracy and choice to the power sector through the political process through local community action through through social networking through our purchasing choices if Japan doesn't do that it's going to be left behind there's a really interesting example here in sets a gaya city in Tokyo the mayor has pushed for choice and for alternative supply of electricity and he's pushing for choice and reforms in the in the local power situation and I think you can follow that example and you can contact your own mayor to learn from what's happened inset the gaya and other local communities around Japan so we owe it to our children to do better we owe it to our children to do better I'm very worried about nuclear waste I'm very worried about leaving that waste for generations of children to come than their children I'm very worried about nuclear accident safety we owe it to our children to do better Japan does not need nuclear power renewable energy can do what nuclear is doing however renewable energy is fundamentally a choice not a foregone conclusion based on technical and economic circumstances renewable energy is not going to happen by magic it's a choice we're gonna have to make so please join me in leading Japan and the world into a renewable energy future choose renewable energy thank you

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14 thoughts on “Renewable Energy Is Our Future: Eric Martinot at TEDxTokyo

  1. I spent months trying to discover a method to make my very own energy. The solution turned out to be the Papziati Energy online system. It is the number 1 method to produce your own electric power. Simply start looking on Google.

  2. Japan has always had a trade surplus before fukishema but after Japan has a trade deficet because of importing natural gas and coal because of the closer of their nuclear plants.

  3. Telling people to throw away their futures under the guise of protecting them seems to be irresponsible. The waste is unburnt fuel and storing it is worse than a waste of money. It's true that renewables are the correct solution for households, but modular Thorium reactors are almost uniquely designed for industrial applications.

  4. it just doesn't work like that, what exactly do you mean with ways to store energy? what about a few numbers about how much are we are talking. this all sounds nice but the facts are different. in germany are the highes electricity prices, industy doesn't like that. co2 emmisions almost didnt get down at all. look at the stats and the facts! what we need is the 4th gen nuclear. don't say noooo, educate yourself what this is and what this does and why this isn't like todays reactors.

  5. Renewables are the kind of thing that's really easy to get excited about as a world-saving tech solution to climate change, until you take a closer look at how energy works and understand what it would mean to power human civilization with low density energy sources. Trillions upon trillions of dollars to build, maintain and operate energy infrastructure that will sprawl over millions of square miles of the earth's surface. Even if we could build it all fast enough to head off serious climate change, it's just not going to happen. It's simply too expensive, especially for developing countries where most of the growth in energy demand is coming from. The longer we we spend deluding ourselves with this renewables fantasy, the harder it is going to be to tackle climate change. Either nuclear energy is going to be the chief source of zero carbon energy, with renewables making modest contributions at the margins, or we're going to keep using fossil fuels until climate change stresses human civilization to the breaking point.

  6. He was speaking in front of a Japanese audience. The last thing they need is someone trying to convince them of adopting another nuclear power source regardless of how safe you think it might be.

  7. martinot, that i saw, didn't mention one word about thorium/LFTR

    if he's really serious, he should do what others have done

    look at the science (LFTR) and how best to bring vast amounts of green energy to improve the human condition (especially into the third world)

    cutting edge environmentalists are taking notice and bringing that into the conversation

    see gordon mcdowell's youtube channel


  8. It's really good to learn of Eric Martinot's great work producing the REN21 Renewables Global Futures Report (GFR) 2013, searchable on google and free to download and print.
    I'm also glad that he name dropped John Holdren. I'm glad that people like this are working within the system; it helps to restore faith that not all of it is corrupt, and some is actually incredibly useful.

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