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Monthly Meeting

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.

http://costofsolar.com/management/uploads/2013/06/price-of-solar-power-drop-graph.jpg

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:

http://costofsolar.com/management/uploads/2013/06/disruptive-solar.png
The market for solar in the U.S. is growing by leaps and bounds.


http://costofsolar.com/management/uploads/2013/10/US-solar-power-growth.jpg

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:

http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

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  • Louanne R.

    I thought it was a really good meeting with knowledgeable speakers. I also thought that the questions were excellent. Also a good turnout. I noticed that very few people left after the program and lots of time was spent talking to the speakers and each other. It seems evident to me that "humanists" must stay informed on all national and global issues in order to counteract those that believe there is nothing to fear because "the end is near"!!!

    September 11, 2014

  • Sam

    Excellent and very informative presentations by all three speakers. Out of 160 or so HoFW members and 440 members of the Greater FW Sierra Club, we had 29 attendees. I thought more people would be interested in saving the planet, or at least in decreasing the use of coal and oil and keeping more mercury from getting into the rivers and oceans and the fish we eat.

    September 11, 2014

  • Wanda F.

    This was a really great meeting!

    September 11, 2014

  • sara h.

    Doesn't anyone except me check the time of the meeting? Is it 6:00 or 7:00n both times are posted.

    September 10, 2014

    • Sam

      sara, the monthly meetings at Westside always start at 7:00 p.m. Where does it say 6:00? I don't see it.

      September 10, 2014

  • Wanda F.

    7 o'clock. That is what it says at the top of this page and on the calendar page. Hope to see you there.

    September 10, 2014

  • Louanne R.

    The meeting starts at 7 p.m. I guarantee.

    September 10, 2014

  • Sheven P.

    dang it you guys, I teach from 5:30-6:30 on wed evenings, so I can't come unless I go straight from the gym and arrive offensively sweaty and smelly. But I'd love to come to this being the hypocrite environmentalist who works in the oil industry.

    September 6, 2014

    • Wanda F.

      Would love to see you there, sweats and all. We don't start until 7, so you have time for the drive. Might just be a minute or two late.

      September 6, 2014

    • Sam

      Come straight from the gym. You don't want to miss this one.

      September 6, 2014

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