Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

The World Is Going Solar

Energy

The world is going solar. According to new data released by the Fraunhofer Institute, in the first half of 2014, renewable energy, like solar power, accounted for almost 31 percent of all electricity produced in Germany. In fact, solar power generation was up 28 percent during the first half of 2014, compared to the same time last year. 

The solar sunship is in the solar village Vauban in Freiburg, Black Forest, Germany.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

For the first time ever in Germany—the cloudiest country in western Europe—solar power and other forms of renewable energy created more energy and electricity production than dirty coal. And, in June, Germany set a solar power record, using solar power to generate 50 percent of overall electricity demand for part of a day. 

While Germany is relying heavily on renewable energy today to help fight global warming and climate change, it has had a pretty standard energy evolution. In the 18th century, Germany was burning wood. In the 19th century, it was burning coal. In the 20th century, it was burning oil. Today it’s getting electricity from solar and renewables. 

That’s a typical evolution for a developed country (that’s not controlled by the financial interests of Big Oil). But what if the dozens of developing countries across the globe, that are still stuck in the 18th century and that still rely on burning wood for energy, jumped directly to renewable energy and leapfrogged the whole carbon cycle? 

Can you imagine how that would transform the fight against global warming and climate change? Well, that’s exactly what’s going on right now in rural India. 

Right now, there are nearly 400 million people across India without electricity, with the majority of those people living in rural areas of the country. They’re forced to rely on candles, kerosene and burning wood to light their homes and to do basic things like cooking. The stunning lack of reliable energy production in one of the world’s fastest growing countries led the new Indian Prime Minister, Narenda Modi, to call for every home across India to be able to run at least one light bulb by 2019 with the help of solar power. He didn’t call for more coal to be burned, or for more oil wells to be dug. He called for solar power. 

Read page 1

That’s where companies like Simpa Energy come in. Simpa Energy offers Indians a pay-as-you-go model for solar power, allowing even the poorest Indians in the most rural of areas to have access to clean, green solar power. Simpa Energy customers use their cell phones (which even the poorest of the population have) to purchase a pre-paid code from Simpa, which they then type into a box connected to a solar panel array on their house. Instantly, their home lights up, and they have access to clean and green energy for cooking, cleaning, reading and anything else. 

Right now, Simpa Energy, which was started just three years ago, has nearly 2,000 customers (a customer being one household) and that number is growing by the day. The company projects that its solar power will be reaching 75,000 people across India by the end of this year. But Simpa isn’t the only company bringing affordable solar power to India. 

Companies like OMC Power are building “mini” solar power plants in communities across India that are capable of powering large cell phone towers, and are marketing battery-powered LED lanterns. OMC delivers those lanterns to its customers each day, and comes back the following morning to collect the lanterns, and recharge them using the mini solar power plants. This service costs Indians just $2 per month.

Solar farm in Germany.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

And there are still other companies that are distributing smaller solar power generators and systems—some that are pocket-sized—across India. A recent report by the International Energy Agency found that it would only cost $48 billion a year to provide universal access to modern energy (renewable forms of energy) to poor people across the world. And, that same report found that there needs to be a $12 billion per year additional investment in mini-grid renewables, like the solar power systems that are expanding across India. 

Speaking about the financial challenges facing solar and other forms of renewable energy going forward, Rupesh Shah, a vice president at Simpa Enegy, told Think Progress that, “We’re at a certain scale now that we require a different level of investment. We were able to get by in the first couple of years with grants and things like that, but now we need more commercial capital.”

And Justin Guay, associate director of the International Climate Program with the Sierra Club, said, “What is desperately needed is public institutions to step in and provide loan guarantees and other forms of risk-taking capital that can help unlock the investment that’s required to really take this from a relatively distributed, small-scale approach to something that really takes on energy poverty and is able to eliminate this problem once and for all.”

The bottom-line is that solar power and other renewable forms of energy are the energy of today and of the future, in both developed and developing nations. Not coal. Not oil. Not natural gas. And as the richest country in the world, we need to finally embrace that fact, and lead the world in investing more in these clean and green energies that will be powering our country into the future. 

Each year, Big Oil receives $500 billion in government subsidies. Can you imagine what would happen if that $500 billion went to investing in developing renewable sources of energy instead? Despite what Big Oil executives and their cronies in Washington might say, going green isn’t just a choice. It’s reality. 

It’s the only option we have if we want to save the human race from a climate disaster. So, let’s start treating it like that, by investing in a secure energy future for America, and the rest of the world.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Lit candles, flowers and signs are seen in front of the U.S. embassy in Warsaw, Poland on May 31, 2020. Aleksander Kalka / NurPhoto / Getty Images

As protests are taking place across our nation in response to the killing of George Floyd, we want to acknowledge the importance of this protest and the Black Lives Matter movement. Over the years, we've aimed to be sensitive and prioritize stories that highlight the intersection between racial and environmental injustice. From our years of covering the environment, we know that too often marginalized communities around the world are disproportionately affected by environmental crises.

Read More Show Less
Sockeye salmon are seen swimming at a fish farm. Natalie Fobes / Getty Images

By Peter Beech

Using waste food to farm insects as fish food and high-tech real-time water quality monitoring: innovations that could help change global aquaculture, were showcased at the World Economic Forum's Virtual Ocean Dialogues 2020.

Read More Show Less
Shanika Reaux walks through the devastated Lower Ninth Ward on May 10, 2006 in New Orleans, Louisiana, after her home was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Mario Tama / Getty Images

The big three broadcast channels failed to cover the disproportionate impacts of extreme weather on low-income communities or communities of color during their primetime coverage of seven hurricanes and one tropical storm over three years, a Media Matters for America analysis revealed.

Read More Show Less
Several drugmakers and research institutions are working on vaccines, antivirals and other treatments to help people infected with COVID-19. krisanapong detraphiphat / Moment / Getty Images

Researchers at the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly announced yesterday that it will start a trial on a new drug designed specifically for COVID-19, a milestone in the race to stop the infectious disease, according to STAT News.

Read More Show Less
The Sumatran rhino is one of 515 endangered species of land animals on the brink of extinction. Mark Carwardine / Photolibrary / Getty Images

The sixth mass extinction is here, and it's speeding up.

Read More Show Less
People are having a hard time trying to understand what information is reliable and what information they can trust. Aekkarak Thongjiew / EyeEm / Getty Images

By Cathy Cassata

With more than 1.7 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States and more than 100,000 deaths from the virus, physicians face unprecedented challenges in their efforts to keep Americans safe.

They also encounter what some call an "infodemic," an outbreak of misinformation that's making it more difficult to treat patients.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Workers clean up a crude oil leak from a pipeline in Minnesota in 2002. JOEY MCLEISTER / Star Tribune via Getty Images

The Trump administration has finalized a rule making it harder for states and tribal communities to block pipelines and other infrastructure projects that threaten waterways.

Read More Show Less