The Great Transition: A Renewable Energy Revolution by Janet Larsen

The Great Transition: A Renewable Energy Revolution by Janet Larsen



good afternoon everyone thanks for sticking around 350 today on this cold and blustery day today we'll talk about the great transition did you know that we're in the midst of a great transition we're at the starting line of something new what we're starting to see the acceleration of history where 50 years of change are getting compressed into a decade with energy you can see glimpses of this great transition looking around the world whether it's in South Australia where now wind generated electricity is greater than coal generated electricity and even if the coal itself were free solar power would still be cheaper in the 100-plus cities worldwide that are now getting over 70% of their electricity from renewable energy or look at Spain where wind power is closing in on nuclear generation or in China where when generated electricity is already greater than nuclear generated electricity in the UK wind generated electricity is eclipsing coal on some days and after 115 years of burning coal Scotland just recently burned its last lump of coal as it moves forward in this transition so each month we're seeing new renewable energy records set and it's exciting to think about you know we know energy transitions themselves are not new how many people got here by a horse-and-buggy or are these lights powered from whale oil certainly not but this this energy transition is happening in our lifetimes and and it's incredibly exciting so before we get into the nitty-gritty on energy why don't we talk a little bit about why we care why we're interested in this and we can serve as some small talk how about we talk about the weather well today is one of the coldest days of the year we're hearing about the meandering polar vortex whereas the Arctic is warming up and the jet stream is getting a little bit wavy er colder air is slippin down into the continental United States wherewhere is meanwhile in Australia they're having record high temperatures and you can talk to kindergarteners in Australia now who do not know rain because there's been an address their entire lifetimes in the US of course we've had our own recent experience with droughts and wildfires on the west coast and overall at the global level we know that the 11 warmest years on record have all come since 2005 and this is because carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere are rising at an unprecedented rates largely from burning of fossil fuels coal oil natural gas also the destruction of our forests so what does this mean for for you and me well climate change affects us in many different ways most intimately perhaps is with our food supply so you look at this ear of corn we're all familiar with corn many of us eat it enjoy it on the summer we quite a bit of corn if you have a typical American refrigerator that you open up and you see your milk eggs maybe some hamburger all those are embodied corn now what has to happen for this corn to grow well each one of those kernels is it has is attached to those tassels you see and grains of pollen have to fall down make their way down to the tassel every single one to produce each of those little kernels of corn so that's great when you have good temperatures and lots of water um it's easy to get juicy plump ears of corn but in years of drought those tassels shrivel and corn pollination can fall too zero now you may say well I don't eat very much corn and that may be true but these same challenges of high temperatures and pollination shortfalls happen with all the major grains that are feeding much of humanity corn wheat and rice if you look around the world and you see how well we're doing at growing crops our yields of crops how much you can get for every given a chore a cur since World War two and throughout this Green Revolution we've seen crop yields in many parts of the world start to increase for a number of reasons new varieties where you can grow plants closer and closer together but in many parts of the world the growth in yield is slowing so this shows us Japan and China now Japan has some of the most experience of anybody and growing rice they probably do it some of they have some of the best rice farmers in the world but they're not making much more progress in getting more rice per given acre now China which you know the most populous country in the world is nearing Japanese levels in yields and you can see this if you look around the world with wheat and Europe's major producers we're hitting that yield ceiling it's sort of like a biophysical limit where you look at runners you know nobody is talking about the next 3-minute miler there's some limits in in the system other ways we're seeing the effects of climate change are with the melting of ice in the ice caps and ice floating in the seas now when sea ice melts that doesn't directly raise sea level because that ice is already floating but when Greenland or the West Antarctic Ice Sheet start to melt that additional water can raise raise sea level and projections are showing that by the end of the century CE level could rise on the order of a meter or more three feet or more that means inundation in coastal cities already parts of the United States even are seeing these regular nuisance floods on sunny days in Miami you may see streets start to get flooded as the seas are are higher already because warmer water expands ice is also melting in the world of mountains we can call these are our reservoirs in the sky sky mountain glaciers are melting throughout the world now in the short term that increases the flows of rivers and can cause a boom in food production but in the long term as those reservoirs in the sky disappear that means that if you're depending on River flow to irrigate your crops you're going to be in trouble meanwhile apart from climate change we are over pumping our underground water supplies so you can see in in satellite images this is showing us Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia used their oil well drilling technology to drill down deep into the desert to reach these fossil aquifers fossils stores of water and subsidized wheat production in the desert for many years until around 2009 when the government said we're going to phase out these subsidies we're running out of this water underneath our desert and so we're going to stop subsidizing wheat production stop growing food in the desert and thus you have a country of about 30 some million people turning to the world market for the major part of their food supply now Saudi Arabia is a relatively small country but if you look throughout the Middle East we have the about the equivalent of a nile river worth of water flowing into the country in terms of grain imports so what happens as we are over pumping our water supplies in other parts of the world the world's three major food producers the United States India and China are all seeing water tables fall because of over pumping in some of their agriculture like agricultural areas in India every single state now is seeing water tables fall in some areas because of over pumping in the United States it's the Ogallala Aquifer in the central United States where farmers now are abandoning some of their areas in northern Texas parts of Kansas because they cannot drill deep enough to get that water table that water though these water sources some water underground is replenished regularly with water but these fossil aquifers they're just like an oil field and once that water is gone you're in trouble so looking around the world we see overpumping happening in at least 18 countries with over 3 billion people maybe even close to 4 billion people dependent on water that's being over pumped this is like you remember at the housing bubble or the stock market bubble this is the food bubble we can produce a lot of food now but as we're using up our water supplies the base of that production is being depleted so water you drink is a very small part of our over water consumption it's when you look at the water and used to produce food it gets interesting so just a few fun facts you need about eight glasses of water to produce just nine leaves of spinach if you want three and a half walnuts today you better have seven gallons of water to produce it a bunch of California grapes requires 24 gallons of water to produce or four glasses of milk require 143 gallons of water that's because those cows most of them are fed grain and it takes about a thousand tons of water to produce one ton of rain so when you start looking at meat milk eggs you're looking at a lot of water use so if you decide to eat that mere portion 1.75 ounces of beef you'll need 86 some gallons of water to produce it the water demands of food are enormous at the same time in about a third of the world's major land areas soil erosion is exceeding soil production a few years back we saw a report coming out of China called desert mergers and acquisitions as deserts in the northern part of the country are actually expanding and becoming larger and larger and that's because of over plowing over grazing you see roads can disappear telephone poles will you'll have to attach one on top of the other as the sand dunes are moving and you want to have your power line stretch over it and soil of course as we know is is the basis for our lives right now we have 7.5 billion people on the planet so with current population growth rates that means there's about two hundred twenty six thousand new dinars at the global dinner table each night so put all these things together a storm is brewing we have this tightening food supply while global demand is rising put on top of this that the stress of climate change and you can see humanity needs to make changes very quickly it's not an exaggeration to say the fate of civilization is at stake but what if as our problems grow so does our ingenuity and for this we can look at some historical examples my longtime colleague and mentor Lester Brown he talks about the World War two style mobilization as a historical precedent for rapid change what can happen when a society puts it to mind to do something to work together to achieve a goal we see that we can make rapid change not in decades not in years but in a matter of months so the attack on Pearl Harbor was on December 7th 1941 one month later in his addressing the United States President Roosevelt laid forth his arms production goals he said we will produce 45,000 tanks 60,000 planes 20,000 anti-aircraft guns and six million tons of merchant shipping these were numbers no one could have comprehended before it was hard to imagine such enormous goals but it didn't stop there American ingenuity got put into play and turned toy factories into compass manufacturers instead of making spark plugs the industry turned out machine guns from early 1942 to 1944 essentially no cars were produced because all of that manufacturing capacity got put toward the war effort now today the major stresses are not foreign powers and we don't need such violent means to get ourselves out of it there are ways to put together our common interests and solve our problems we can do it we can look around the world and see pieces of the puzzle everywhere a lot of it are are things that are common sense very simple empowering women educating children particularly girls teaching them how to read giving them the tools and information so that they can control the sizes of their family if you want an example of a country that's dramatically been able to reduce its population growth rate you can look at Iran Iran was able to reduce birth rates from some of the highest in the world to close to levels in the United States in a very rapid period of time and they did so largely by educating girls the Muslim clerics were on board they taught classes to couples before they got married teaching them about contraception and they were able to make rapid change with tree planting one of the solutions we need you can look to examples like South Korea that had become largely deforested but after experiencing the problems associated with deforestation like flooding landslides the country began to realize the wealth that you get from natural resources that you get from your forests and they were able to blanket hillsides with trees and now you look at satellite images and you can see very sharply the line between North Korea and South Korea because South Korea is largely green with with soils you can look at what the United States was able to do in the years stopping the Dust Bowl instead of over plowing and overusing our land farmers learned how to respect the contours of the land and put in tree buffers and other things to stabilize soils so this can be done so the other part of the puzzle will go back to this great transition back to renewable energy because it's a big part of the picture scientists are telling us now if we want to stabilize climate we will have to leave a lot of our fossil fuel resources in the ground will have to leave about 80% of the coal there 50 percent of the oil a third of our natural gas and in order to stabilize climate back to stable levels here we have good news the fastest forms of energy growth worldwide right now are our renewables solar growth is outpacing almost everything else growing recently at a hundred and thirty two percent per year that's dramatic doubling rates wind is also growing biomass but they're starting from a relatively small base so if you look globally you can see we still use an awful lot of coal but renewable energy is starting to rise and so the challenge is to accelerate the downturn of the fossil fuels and the upturn of the renewables so to drill down on this we can look at what's happening with coal in the United States despite recent attempts by the government to the administration to intervene into markets and prop up the coal industry Wall Street's utilities other investors are turning away from coal coal use in the United States peaked at about 2007 and has fallen about 37 percent in the year since there's a number of reasons for this part of it is lower natural gas prices the effects of air pollution regulations local campaigns and it happened pretty quickly because in the late 2000s the US Department of Energy put out a report talking about the coal-fired Renaissance but since then plant after plant has been shuttered or is planning to close right now of the 530 coal-fired power plants in the United States over half have recently closed down or plan to close this is a number that changes pretty quickly if you want to keep tabs on what's happening with coal-fired power plants you can check out the Sierra Club's beyond coal campaign where they have a countdown that I have to check every time I talked to something because the number of coal plants retiring keeps going up other countries have past peak coal Australia Canada many countries in the European Union have also passed on peak coal so that brings us the question what is happening in places like China China now burns more coal than the rest of the world combined and you can see what it would affect it has on China's air quality the Chinese government actually has an official statistical statistical data set they gather on blue sky days they have to count the number of days each year where where residents of the various cities actually see blue skies a set of researchers actually do an interesting experiment in China and they looked at northern China Chinese lifespans compared with southern Chinese lifespans now why were they doing this well in north northern China where it's very cold coal consumption was subsidized by the government so accounting for all sorts of other factors that could make a difference in lifespan the researchers found that because of the higher coal burning in northern China people were living five years less than in southern China currently Beijing is taking this air pollution this quality of life difference very seriously and so we have to ask the question has China passed peak coal coal use has fallen in the last couple years it's gone up just a bit in the last year but we may have passed peak coal in China and this is big news for for the climate China's done so because when the Chinese government sets out a goal to do something it's able to do it pretty fast in China set forth enormous Li large goals in in wind and solar and China now leads the world in both wind and solar production China is building some additional nuclear power plants but as we can see nuclear is not is not seeing a bright feature if anyone recognizes this picture we're looking at the in Fukushima Japan the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that that led to a meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear reactor thus far the numbers are still coming in but it looks like it'll cost the government hundreds of billions of dollars depending on the levels of water contamination that they're seeing there's still some 35,000 people that have not moved back home and shortly after the disaster the Japanese government actually raised the tolerable amount a taller allowable level of nuclear radiation that people can live with for health to try to coax people to come back but but even before the Fukushima disaster in 2011 we saw a number of countries and indeed the world's peak in its nuclear electricity generation so there's currently about 417 nuclear reactors worldwide not a huge number when you think about it that's down from about 438 that were operating in 2002 a number of countries have already passed this peak France peaked with its nuclear generation in about 2005 which is interesting because France is one of the countries that has a large reliance on nuclear power but the government set forth a goal to reduce its reliance on nuclear energy from about 75% of its electrical production to about 50 percent by 2025 and it accompanied this with some ambitious goals for new wind power generation even South Korea that is currently building some of the world's nuclear power plants under construction they have a long-term shutdown goal and a large reason for this is that the nuclear fleet is aging so in this graph the top part of the graph is showing when nuclear reaction reactors came online so you can see we're well past the heyday of nuclear so that means we have an aging fleet many of the world's nuclear power plants are near 40 years olds which is the amount of time most of them are rated for for their lifetime the United States recently shut down its oldest reactor a 49 year old plant in Oyster Creek New Jersey there's currently only two reactors under construction in the United States after in 2017 the Sumner Comfort summer company pulled a plug on two of its plans it was constructing in South Carolina the company had already spent nine billion dollars but construction costs kept going up and up and up and so they ended up cancelling after spending nine billion dollars abandoned nuclear power is costly from from cradle to grave decommissioning costs are incredibly high as well and most of those costs aren't calculated into to the cost of of new production so we saw in 2017 Toshiba Westinghouse which is historically the largest builder of nuclear power plants if filed for bankruptcy production in the United States interestingly it ended up being bought by a company that has no experience in the nuclear sector but it is specialized in the tako of companies having difficulties which might make you worry a little bit if you're if you're in the nuclear industry in China which many people look to and say well they are there a nuclear energy power wind generated electricity has actually eclipsed nuclear generated electricity and this is not just capacity this is actual generation of wind turbines versus nuclear power plants and it's possible that we'll see that gap widen in the future because China has an enormous goal of 200 gigawatts of wind power capacity by 2020 they've historically been ahead of achieving their goals with renewable energy and a group of researchers including some scientists from China and from Harvard University found that wind could meet the power needs of most of the top 10 carbon emitters the world's wind power potential is 10 times its current electricity demand some times with wind turbines you hear about the NIMBY problem not in my backyard well in much of the United States in farming and ranching country it's the opposite it's pym be put it in my backyard farmers and ranchers are saying put that wind turbine on my land because they know they can generate far more cash from the royalties of producing energy from wind than they could from grazing cattle or growing crops in effect their double cropping that land because they can continue to raise their cattle and grow their crops but also have a constant stream of income so currently Iowa and South Dakota now generate over 25 percent of their electricity from the wind in Texas if Texas were a country it would be number six in the world for wind production other to the world where wind is growing song Denmark we talked about getting over 40% of its electricity and the reasons for this is wind its abundant its widespread its scalable its increasingly cheap once you build that infrastructure your fuel is free and that's one of the reasons why you see this enormous growth curve in wind solar shares many of those same attributes of wind with an added attribute that it has no moving parts you can put up solar panels these are photo photovoltaics or PV on rooftops or on marginal land B producing the energy that you are using just right above your head solar is as we looked at earlier it's growing incredibly quickly China had major goals for solar power generation it said it was going to produce 20 gigawatts from photovoltaic panels by 2020 except it surpassed that goal too early so it raised it to 50 gigawatts and it surpassed that so now its goal is 100 gigawatts by under 20 India also has similar goals and you know one of the interesting irony's of this great transition coal India which is the world's largest coal producer Coal India has installed solar panels on some of its facilities to cut energy costs so it's sort of like atonement for for their past energy sins or something like that solar can be the photovoltaic cells we looked at there's other ways to use the sun's energy concentrating solar power this takes a fair bit of land but in areas where you have it you can use mirrors to concentrate the sun's power and basically turn a steam engine or its turn it yet turn it under turn a generator and the exciting thing about solar thermal is that you can use it to heat up molten salts that can stay hot and continue to produce energy through the night so for as much as 18 or more hours you can continue to produce solar energy so even after the Sun Goes Down this technology allows that you can also use solar to heat water in homes in China they're one of the solar water entrepreneurs spread word of the technology by going village to village and saying does anybody have an egg he would ask for an egg they'd bring him one he'd put it in one of these solar hot water collectors the egg would be boiled in a matter of minutes and so people said yes I will take one of those they were relatively cheap sumit in some villages it was people who never had hot water before in other places or even on in apartments heating water with the Sun instead of fossil energy in other parts of the world they're used in Israel over 85% of the homes are heating their water with solar energy in Argentina the president's rooftop has solar water heaters and in Brazil there was a social program that was mandating putting these solar water heaters on new buildings for for the poorest people so in China there's enough of these to supply over a hundred and seventy million households with hot water they can also be used for space heating or other things you can revise urban building codes to mandate the use of solar thermal energy and heat pumps and very efficiently heat your houses so the exciting thing about solar is it can be used for those villagers in China it can work for Apple this is a big solar farm and made in Carolina but it works around the world it works for big companies it works for villages in China if where villagers could switch from using kerosene to produce late at night switch from from kerosene to one solar panel one light bulb whether it's LED or compact fluorescent light and a cell phone to charge a cell phone villagers end up actually saving money the system pays itself back within a matter of three years the World Bank has a program in Bangladesh where they're putting tens of thousands of solar photovoltaic systems on people's roofs per year so it can spread incredibly fast so wind and solar are the big forms of renewable energy but we also have things like geothermal tapping the energy of the earth geothermal energy can be used both directly for heating water and space it can also be used indirectly to produce power like in this facility a lot of the geothermal energy capacity it's not as widespread as wind or solar where you can use it almost anywhere but in the so called Ring of Fire around the Pacific like the u.s. west coast Japan Indonesia New Zealand some of the Pacific Islands and in the African Rift Valley there's quite a big geothermal potential actually after Fukushima in Japan people said why aren't we using why aren't we using geothermal energy instead of nuclear energy Iceland as a major user of geothermal energy about 30 percent of their electricity comes from geothermal and about 90 percent of space heating in Iceland is energy from the earth and there's other direct uses of geothermal like you can use it to keep fish farms or greenhouses even in Iceland they run the pipes under the sidewalks and you can use it for melting snow without having to burn any fossil fuels so you can see you the United States actually is a geothermal leader although most of us wouldn't know it but other countries which much much larger potential are like in Indonesia Indonesia Pertamina which was the state-run oil company when Indonesia was producing much more oil it's now investing heavily in geothermal looking to produce 100,000 megawatts or 100 gigawatts by 2025 the Philippines has ambitious goals Japan as I mentioned could meet about half its electricity needs with geothermal energy so in parts of the world it can be pretty big business in fact there's 24 countries that could support me a hundred percent of their electricity demand just from his energy from the earth we also have hydropower hydropower is pretty interesting there can be big dams like this or there can be small run of the river systems a world's hydro generation is growing it's it's been supplying about 16 percent of the global electricity demand for for many years but by and large the era of building big dams is coming to a close these expend these projects are not only expensive we've pretty much dammed most of the rivers that are available there are in Asia in particular and on the Congo River looking at some new projects but most of the big big projects are done and for the environment that's probably good news but hydropower still we still have a fair bit of untapped potential so we looked around the world there's about 45,000 or so large dams so of those 45,000 large dams only are actually generating electricity so even without building any new dams we could be getting a fair bit more hydropower and hydropower is exciting because it's it's constant in most places as long as you don't have major drafts so you have to plan carefully but by and large river flows are fairly predictable and that can be good base load power you can also use hydropower to pump water uphill say your so their plants are your when your wind is hurt when turbines are spinning you can use that energy pump pump water a pill and then have it flow back down when maybe the wind is lowing so altogether no country will meet all of its energy needs from one renewable energy source but if you put together lots of the pieces you can have a fully reliable electricity system without having to burn any fossil fuels one thing that's making it easier to meet our renewable and our demands with more and more renewable energies is that we can we can use energy more wisely when we save energy we save money efficiency measures in 11 industrial countries since the 1970s save about 740 billion dollars in just one year because of those efficiency improvements we're highlighting japan's top runner program it's an interesting program it looks on the market and says what's the most efficient refrigerator or computer or light bulb or vacuum cleaner or washing machine it says ok that's the most efficient one that's the new standard so they keep ratcheting up improvement and can use energy more wisely so that's that's why we look to Japanese projects when we want something is efficient it's because the government has put those standards on and really incentivize incentivize continuous improvement other ways to save energy are with lighting the shift away from incandescent lightbulbs is is well well underway and part of that is because of government policies so we've calculated if the world shifted from the least efficient to not even the most efficient just moderately efficient say from shifting from an incandescent bulb to a compact fluorescent that would allow for the closure of 270 cold fired power plants around the world if you shift it to something even more efficient like LED lighting even better and you could close more coal-fired power plants and save people money and as the technologies are getting better it provides them with good source of lighting and cities are finding it it actually saves in labor costs because the newer more efficient forms of lighting will last much longer so you don't need to have crews changing your street lamps regularly because you can install a light bulb that might last a decade so if we couple all this improvement and efficiency and renewable energy with our current automotive economy and switch and an electrified transportation we can make big games currently you can drive an electric car and about the equivalent of 80 cents per gallon of gasoline electric vehicles are about four to five times more efficient than internal combustion energy and every major automaker now is working on electric vehicles the bank UBS did a study and they found that in Europe where gasoline costs are a little higher if you purchase an electric car plus a solar the solar panels to charge it plus storage for the with that energy that purchase could be you get pay itself back in eight years because of the save fuel costs and then after that eight year payback point you're basically running your car for free putting more electric vehicles into the grid is actually exciting too as a storage component because you can have electricity basically flowing in different directions causing allowing for a more robust grid system oh and just to highlight the the costs that have fallen so I put solar panels on my house in Washington DC back in about 2009 now since then the cost of the panel's have fallen by about 3/4 but it still was a good pistol was a good purchase because I've paid a lot less in my in my electricity bill so the cost of these technologies are falling incredibly quickly since 2010 solar costs down 73% wind down over 23% and battery costs they they're they're a few years behind solar and wind cost falling but battery costs are falling quickly and I think that will be the big game changer in electrifying transportation schemes around the world so a lot is happening historically these changes in energy have been policy driven I think going forward we're looking at them being market driven it is the falling cost now and there's open auctions for for power purchases we're finding that solar and wind are increasingly undercutting other sources of energy so they've they're they're wise economic decisions things are happening quickly but still we need to accelerate them this falling costs are a major accelerator the policies are important but still playing an uneven playing field fossil fuels are still subsidized around the world at least twice as much if not more than renewable energy there's at least 600 billion dollars of government subsidies around the world going to fossil fuels and so how can we how can we balance this playing field and why is it important to do so well a fun quote from √łystein dolly the former vice president of Exxon for Norway in the North Sea he said socialism collapsed because it did not allow the market to tell the economic truth capitalism may collapse because it does not allow the market to tell the ecological truth capitalism may collapse because it does not allow the market to tell the ecological truth so what does this mean well when we fill up our car with gasoline we're not paying the full price of that gallon of gasoline we're not paying for military posts to protect oil and gas assets or these new technologies that have allowed for oil and gas Renaissance in the United States the damage from horizontal drilling and and fracking we're not paying for the air pollution costs of burning that gallon of gasoline with children getting children and the elderly getting sick with asthma we're not paying for the reduced crop yields or the melting IceCaps and the glaciers acidification in the ocean we're not paying for these changes that are taking the climate zone out of the realm that any human civilization has ever known so one way to help balances playing field is to put a price on carbon so instead of allowing the atmosphere to be treated as an open sewer for our carbon emissions we can pay for the privilege to put those carbon emissions into the atmosphere and a growing number of governments around the world realizing the predicament that civilization is in they're starting to do that they're putting a price on carbon this map from the World Bank shows some of the places around the world that have or will soon enact prices on on carbon emissions in various forms all together it represents at least fourteen point six percent of global greenhouse gas emissions so it's a good it's a good first step and these aren't all small countries we have China on that list so so how does it work well you can put a price on carbon either at the wellhead or the use basically a fee on each tonne of carbon dioxide emitted there's different ways to do it you could make it revenue neutral for instance offset the tax on carbon by reductions in in taxes on income or on labor or you can disperse part of the money back to the the public studies have looked at this and they found that most people in America in this country would be far better off if there was a carbon tax and some of that money returned to the people because most of us don't have three houses and six cars we're not using that much energy there there is precedent in British Columbia the government set in Canada they they have a for the whole province an economy-wide carbon tax that they put in place in 2008 and with our in a relatively short time in just few years per person consumption of gasoline fell by 15% but the British Columbia economy kept pace with all the other provinces so these are these are exciting you know it's kind of wonky to talk about carbon pricing but in a simple way you could say you know thinking about tax shifting you could say tax what you burn not what you what you earn these are costs that need to be pay and as the price of burning fossil fuels goes up the transition can happen much more quickly there's other movements that are helping to accelerate this transition one of them you may have heard of the divestment movement a lot of it started by a group called 350.org Bill McKibben's group and colleges and university students around the country saying wait a minute why why is our University's endowment why are there so much fossils why is there so much fossil fuel investment when when these institutions should be thinking about our future and so a number of institutions over a thousand actually with a trillion dollars in funds have divested from coal or from all fossil fuels that pulled their money out of that and and the interesting thing is for these institutions it's actually been a great financial move because I don't know if anybody looked at coal stocks recently they haven't been doing that well so it's a it's a prudent move from a financial perspective it's a prudent move from a civilizational perspective and some of these dive esters are ones that originally got their money from fossil fuels like the Rockefeller Brothers fund they were standard petroleum other groups divesting and crude the World Council of Churches the Guardian Media Group Norway they have their one trillion dollar sovereign wealth fund the divested of course a lot of that money came from oil in the North Sea so it's an interesting shift over California state government is selling off its coasts coal stocks because the California state pension fund lost five billion dollars in a year in one year because of their fossil fuel holdings so they said okay I think it's time to pull out of coal on New York City is another investor and yet New York City is also suing some of the major oil companies Exxon Mobil Chevron Royal Dutch Shell BP others for the damage caused by climate change and Paris and other cities are looking at at suing these oil companies for the same reason so movements are happening there's there's people taken to the streets to say climate change is important climate change is something that governments need to pay attention to we need to leave some of these fossil fuels in the ground to protect our future but businesses it's not just the protesters it's the businesses too this is a rooftop of a Walmart Walmart has almost 300 solar photovoltaic systems on its us buildings and the former CEO of Walmart Bill Simon said in 2014 he said this is a business decision the renewable energy we buy meets or beats prices from the grid so he wasn't doing it you know it's it's good it's good for the company's image but they're doing it to save money a number of other large companies have been making Power Purchase Agreements to produce renewable energy and they're doing so because they can have a guaranteed low price of energy for the future like one of the early ones was Apple they had a twenty five-year contract with first solar to supply their California operations large investment groups like Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs are channeling tens of billion dollar bill Ian's of dollars into renewable energy if you look at what some of the world's billionaires are doing they're betting pretty big on renewables Warren Buffett had invested 15 billion dollars in solar and wind before early 2014 and said there's another 15 billion dollars ready to go so these aren't these aren't altruistic environmental decisions necessarily they're business decisions and so this is this is one of the reasons we have hope and when we can actually see the transition in place this is one of the more visible menu manifestations this was an abandoned oil field in California oil and gas fields and Google bought it and installed a solar farm right on top of that where they weren't producing any more oil and gas Google buys a staggering amount of solar and wind to power its servers and other things the company is aiming for a hundred percent renewable energy and when these places are looking to build new facilities they're set up new shops they're saying well we may come to commute your community but what kind of renewable energy are you going to be able to give us there's over 600 entities in the United States that now generate or purchase enough renewable electricity to meet a hundred percent of their needs and these are big companies like Intel Cole staples Unilever find a lot of energy they're finding renewable energy is low-carbon often means low risk so building wind and solar power capacity it's quicker and more affordable than building nuclear or large-scale fossil plants with without the associated financial environmental and health rests and unlike the past where we've got a lot of our energy from a few companies a few small players or with our oil economy just a small part of the world's renewable energy it's a democratized form of energy anyone in the world can is it and they can harness it at increasingly low prices so the choice is ours we can look at that stormy future of climate disruption more extreme weather events soil erosion deforestation or we can decide to adopt a new strategy to make that war time scale mobilization to make a change really trail it relatively quickly and I would posit that this change is already happening in the energy field so with this rapid decarbonisation of our economy there's hope to to mitigate some of the damage that has already been done and just to end on a light note in case anybody has a doubt about climate change everything we've talked about today all these things we can do to create energy independence or preserve forests or restore soils they'll make a much better brighter world for us to live in and unlike the United States back in World War two when people came together and they planted their Victory Gardens in their yard or save their scrap metal people liked to have a cause you know saving civilization we say it's not a spectator sport we all have a role in it so think carefully think about what your role will be and and get to work because it's very exciting to participate in a great transition thank you very much [Applause] Qwest questions he said he said – he's a conservative money you know big government using part of Mayor Nasser and all there was a lot of good news for fissionable materials and out of space nuclear medicine but not too much on their ears he's he's still sucking it up he'll be back we can talk Thank You going to someone else we over here represent the 5g cause we're we're very concerned about the rollout and there was some discussion about the amount of energy that it's going to take to fuel that initiative and is and also yesterday I get asked the question didn't get answered about what about the NSA and and all of the cloud and the energy that it takes to back up all of these this data so I'd like you to speak to that as something that you've looked at and and I've also said to call your representatives and tell them we don't need an ssa and sa storing all of our data and that would save a lot of energy thank you thanks I have not looked at that in depth we have when we looked at various sources of energy data storage server farms are they do they are a huge draw on energy for a local community on a global perspective it's not you know they're not they don't emit as much fossil fuels as say you know cement production or construction or transportation but it's a growing source of energy and particularly in in local communities so and I think so on the one hand it's a big energy draw on the other hand a lot of the tech companies are some of the biggest investors in renewable energy and and companies are excited when they do make that investment in renewable energy because renewable energy investment is it's local energy it's local jobs you're not going to be offshoring solar installation you're not going to those jobs will stay in the country and they're good high-paying jobs but as for the the broader the broader point I think it's something that's important to look at thank you my question about them you mentioned about when a government season we can save electricity it's become standard like for example seven energy refrigerator or other equipment and my question about the saving energy light bulbs and it's become standard right now but I read a lot of information how dangerous they are for our house and it's impossible right now to buy regular old-fashioned light bulb and does anybody look at safety also not just like about save energy and what do you know about it maybe I'm wrong yeah so a lot of the health concerns with regard to lighting have been about the compact fluorescent lighting which for the regular house lamps they're the ones they're sort of little loopy tubes and they contain a small amount of mercury in the bulbs each household Bob for a household lamp might contain it about as much mercury as as is in a common watch battery so while you don't want to break it and handle it you need to you need to be careful about it it's much smaller overall than the amount of mercury that's released into the environment from coal-fired power plants so if we shifted all their lights to contact fluorescents it would be less mercury potentially entering the environment then if we were to burn coal to power the inefficient incandescent light bulbs because I think CFLs use a fraction maybe twenty five percent the amount of energy is the the regular ones now the good news is because still any amount of mercury is is concerning right it's a neurotoxin you don't want to be adding that into the environment in any form that the LED lights do not have that same problem so you don't have to be as careful about breaking them in and they're more energy the CFL's so and they're becoming more inexpensive so I think if you're concerned about mercury bypass the compact fluorescents and move to the LEDs but feel confident that either way by using the more efficient lights than the regular olds you know Edison really incandescent lightbulb you're still having less mercury entering the environments I can't hear sorry I get headaches from LED so I can't be around that especially over my head because she was talking about the safety of the lights and I'm wondering what it is about the LED lights I know that I'm some of the early I yeah if I understand correctly if you got you had headaches from LEDs I'm not an expert in that by any means I know the quality of light that was produced especially by a lot of the early LEDs was like more blue as had higher levels in the blue end of the spectrum and now they're they're better you can get the more warm light you can get other lights and it's recommended that cities switched to the other kinds because it's better for the animals in the environment but I haven't studied the health effects very closely I do know the technology is is getting better but I don't know specifically about the health effects reference to excuse me in reference to LED lights I can vouch ever since I've put them in my house throughout the house they no longer call me eagle eye and I'm serious it's affected my vision the LED light bulbs without a doubt they're definitely damaging to your eye mm-hmm far as I'm concerned okay thank you for that comment that's not something I'm an expert in but your experience is your experience and it's valid so thank you okay I just want to comment on the LEDs as well for the person that said they can't see good anyone that's a neurosurgeon named Jack Cruz you can look him up online he talks all about the LEDs and how dangerous they are they actually screw up your metabolism they crystallise your pineal gland they have all kinds of in doctor Dan gland problems because of them and he said the best thing is to go back to old-fashioned light bulbs LEDs are seriously dangerous my very astute sister has just mentioned if you want to go back a little I think it should be pretty common knowledge you that President Bush made a deal made a deal with a friend of his who was developing all these new light bulbs and that's why the good ones that didn't hurt us we're taken off the market just do your research the story is all there any other questions or comments I'll say that I can definitely look more into that that's not something I'm familiar with and I think ultimately if we do shift to a renewable economy then it won't matter say how much each individual light bulb is drawing from the system so it depends on on what what your what your ultimate goals are I think if we continue to use the most inefficient things and continue to burn coal to perpetuate those systems that comes with the whole slew of other health effects as well so but if we have a renewable energy economy then hey it doesn't matter so much how much energy each light bulb uses so maybe the old ones would come back I don't know thank you well I think where are we out of questions I appreciate you all taking the time and if anyone wants to chat afterwards I will be here thank you [Applause]

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12 thoughts on “The Great Transition: A Renewable Energy Revolution by Janet Larsen

  1. Global Warming is one of the biggest falsehoods of the century! Almost as dishonest as the Federal Reserve, which is neither Federal or a Reserve. And batteries for Solar are not any cheaper, I have $5000 invested in batteries for my solar system, they were the biggest cost factor in the system. Panels are getting cheaper, but not batteries. Maybe once Tesla is actually mass producing their Power Wall battery systems they will be, but not yet anyway.

  2. Global warming hoax more like in to Grand Solar minimum! New world order propaganda spare me! Brain death is a ugly thing…*

  3. No such thing as fossil fuels. this term was coined by the tycoons who have owned and operated these companies forever. They make it seem as if they are depletable. Scarcity was the name of the game and now it's abundance

  4. laws of thermal dynamics
    Ephemraliztion
    if we can do more with less, with less can we do more
    take it into account for everything
    mixed technologies

    current
    wave
    wind
    sun

    4 in 1
    ocean
    capture all the energies
    thermal power, more.
    build goods that use less energy
    see waste and innovate better

  5. Order of operations to this fix
    suck out carbon and get rid of dimming or pollution, Or find another way to dim and then suck carbon or pollution, and then remove the dimming after. I think its a order of operations, process.
    My hypo

  6. Carbon Drought – https://youtu.be/MSkNIpNWX0k
    Global Warming Scam – https://youtu.be/MSkNIpNWX0k
    The Maldives Mistery – https://youtu.be/9p51t2MHcms
    25 NASA Scientists question global warming – https://youtu.be/EhW-B2udhQ
    Carbon – https://youtu.be/TjlmFr4FMvI
    Climate change – We are safe – https://youtu.be/Np_CHy9ql4M
    The myth of the 97% consensus – https://youtu.be/hJujb-VnaCM
    Z

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