Tom Kerr writing on solar power…
When you think of being “off the grid” it’s easier to picture Thoreau at Walden Pond – or an Amish horse and buggy – than Fortune 500 CEOs and Wall Street bankers.
But the mainstream world is moving off-grid faster than you may realize. And with an urgency that Big Government is reluctant to acknowledge or admit.
Driving this seismic change is the fact that solar energy costs have dropped by about 50% within the past five years. In 2016, while the oil and gas industry laid-off nearly half a million workers, job growth in wind and solar grew 17 times faster than the U.S. economy.
But it’s not just homesteaders buying all those solar panels.
Target and Walmart together produce at least 292 megawatts of power.
That’s more than half of the total capacity of the Ginna Nuclear Power Plant in New York. Except the two retail chains do it with solar panels and safe sunshine.
Maybe that’s why a coal company in Kentucky announced that it is converting a former strip mine into the largest solar power farm in the state. Berkeley Energy has been mining coal for 30 years, and the company says that the solar venture isn’t a departure from its core philosophy. As one executive explained, they are continuing to use the land as they always have…to produce energy and put coal miners to work.
Except this time, they’ll be above ground, breathing fresh air and mining the clean, efficient, sustainable energy of the sun.
Meanwhile, JPMorgan Chase – the largest bank in America – is on track to be 100% reliant on only renewable energy within two years. That initiative will include all its offices in more than 60 countries.
That’s pretty impressive.
But not compared to what’s happening in Scotland within that same timeframe. The whole country is ahead of schedule with plans to generate all its electricity from renewable resources within 24 months.
Nearly 140 countries are expected to be off-grid by 2050, using wind, water, and solar energy.
Closer to home, the entire town of North Adams, Massachusetts has been generating 80% of its power off-grid since 2015.
And General Motors just purchased enough wind power to meet demand for electricity at all seven of its plants in Ohio and Indiana. The company already uses solar power at more than 25 facilities, and methane gas recycled from landfills helps power two GM auto assembly lines.
Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory – which developed the nuclear bomb – recently created a high-insulation, energy-saving, double-paned window. Only theirs doesn’t just save you energy. It also generates solar power.
Up until now, the big obstacle has been the cost of storing energy in batteries. But as batteries become smaller and more powerful, practical applications of off-grid technology become more affordable and easier to set up. Soon the technology will reach that tipping point where it will set off an avalanche of everyday implementation.
But you don’t have to wait around for that to happen. You can start taking steps now to be more energy independent and self-sufficient.
Use LED lights at home. During the day, open the blinds on the sunny side of your house and let solar heat naturally lower your utility bills. Buy a camp stove that also powers your smartphone using thermal heat.
Pack a collapsible, waterproof solar lantern and get outside to enjoy some off-grid, quality “me time” that will refresh your own internal batteries.
My friend Sierra (co-owner of one of the first solar energy companies in North Carolina) says that the fresh scent of laundry dried outdoors on a line got her hooked on off-grid solar power.
All you need to implement that technology is a backyard or urban balcony…and a bright sunny day.
P.S. Discover how you can enjoy a more laidback, authentic, independent way of life in Truth & Plenty. Sign up below to have it delivered – free of charge – to your email inbox.
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