Solar Energy and Electric Cars in North Texas
The scientific consensus is that human civilization cannot survive in any recognizable form a temperature increase this century more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Given that we’ve already warmed the earth about 0.8 degrees Celsius, that means we have 1.2 degrees left—and some of that warming is already in motion. That means we can release about 565 gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere by mid-century--total--if we hope to keep inhabiting the planet in a manner that resembles current conditions.
Here's the bad news. The total amount of known, proven extractable fossil fuel in the ground owned by companies and governments around the world right now is 2,795 gigatons, almost five times the amount we can safely burn.
Here's the good news. We seem to be heading rapidly towards a tipping point for solar energy, and by that I mean it is getting so cheap that fossil fuels, at some point in the near future, will not be able to compete with it.
The cost of a solar photovoltaic watt is more than 100 times cheaper than it was in 1977.
The cost of electricity from solar panels is now lower than the cost of retail electricity for a lot of people. The cost of solar is headed towards the wholesale cost of electricity from natural gas:
The market for solar in the U.S. is growing by leaps and bounds.
Two speakers, Lori Clark, Principal Air Quality Planner for the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG), and Larry Howe with Plano Solar Advocates, will talk about the current state and economy of solar power in North Texas and what needs to be done to get the price of it down. Solar is much cheaper in countries like Germany, and price will determine how widely and how quickly solar will be adopted in the U.S.
Last but not least, Buzz Smith, EVangelist at Classic Chevrolet and electric car blogger, will bring his Chevy Volt for everyone to look at, and he will tell us about the benefits of and the incentives for buying electric cars.
These subjects are related. Analysts at investment bank UBS and Citigroup believe the growth of solar power, in combination with advances in batteries and electric cars, will cause centralized fossil fuel generation to become “extinct” sooner than most people realize. UBS says the payback time for unsubsidized investment in electric vehicles plus rooftop solar plus battery storage will be as low as 6-8 years by 2020 in Europe– triggering a massive revolution in the energy industry. It will fall to around 3 years by 2030. Right now, the payback is probably around 12 years, enough to encourage the interest of early adopters.
The sad thing is that electricity from solar and wind is already cheaper than that from coal if the economically quantifiable costs of the harm from coal are accounted for. It is estimated that the total harm from coal (to public health, the environment, etc.) would currently add about 17.8 cents/kWhr to coal generated electricity, rendering it totally uncompetitive with other forms of energy.
Lastly, please note that we will NOT be debating the science of climate change. If you are a climate change skeptic, this website will probably address your concerns: