Renewable Energy Trends

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Welcome Good Dirt Radio…reporting on positive solutions… taking root.

In years past, renewable energy was used mainly by ‘off -the-grid’ folks and a few forward thinkers…. with money.  But thanks to improved technologies, lower prices and the abundance of positive media about these proven options, an unprecedented surge of awareness and positive action, with conservation, energy use and production, is occurring in America.

Good Dirt spoke with Richard Perez by cell phone, from his remote, mountain office near Ashland, Oregon.  Perez has been off the grid since 1970 and started Home Power Magazine in 1987. The magazine illustrates all types of renewable energy systems used in home and commercial applications and demonstrates the many benefits of using the suns energy. He reports a large increase in Home Power’s magazine sales, primarily to people want to know the environmental consequences of their energy use and how to create clean energy.

Perez:  Solar energy is a clean, quiet, organic revolution whose time has come.  And it has been growing steadily.  When we began Home Power, we had 7000 subscribers, now we have well over 100,000 people reading us.  Folks are becoming more aware of it, more and more people are doing it.  Off grid systems are increasing at the rate of about 30% a year and on grid systems’ growth rates are astronomical, so much so that we can’t really reliably measure them, but somewhere between a hundred and two hundred percent a year growth.

We asked Perez how solar photovoltaic or PV systems actually affect air pollution.

Perez:  A one Kilawatt PV array will displace one metric ton of carbon dioxide in  the atmosphere, annually.  So, this is a solution for America’s number one air pollution problem.

Brad Collins, is the Executive Director of the American Solar Energy Society and publisher of Solar Today Magazine. For 20 years, their mission has been to help America move toward a sustainable energy economy by educating the public about renewable energy and solar building technologies.   He shares his perspective of this shift in awareness.

Collins:  We have seen a significant increase in subscribers and newsstand sales for Solar Today magazine.    We’ve also seen a significant increase in memberships in the American Solar Energy Society and in attendance at conferences and our other events.  This all part of a growing awareness of many people in the American public that they have to have action.  We need to be educated, we have to have advocates and we need to help drive decision makers into a situation where they are comfortable with helping with this transition to a sustainable energy economy.  Time after time, there are polls that say the vast majority of 85-90% of the American public are willing to sacrifice a bit in order to move toward this type of an economy.  We’re trying to help nurture that along.

Regina Johnson, Editor of Solar Today Magazine, a longtime solar advocate, agrees there is a shift in awareness taking place.

Johnson:   In the past 2 years, we’ve seen a huge jump in the magazine’s circulation, by like two thirds.  Clearly, people are concerned and would like to take control of how they use energy.  So whether they are baby boomers who are looking toward retirement or they’re young families looking to build healthy, sustainable homes, renewable energy just makes sense for them.

Johnson points out that in certain areas, harvesting protons can become a rewarding opportunity.

Johnson: Depending on the local resource where you live, the utility rates and the incentives available from your local and state government, renewable energy has become economically competitive and in the best cases, places like California and New Jersey, where they offer especially good incentives, renewable energy systems can offer strong returns on the investment and positive cash flow.  So, its been exciting to see the conversation shift from one of payback how long will it take me to pay off the investment, to cash flow.

Collins offers some advice and words of wisdom for us all.

Collins:  People say that one of their biggest fears is to not be able to look their children in the eyes and answer the question what did you do, daddy or mother, while we watched the poles melt away and the seas rise.  All of us must be engaged, actively, in advancing energy solutions that don’t add carbon to the atmosphere.  And energy conservation is first and foremost to address and mitigate global warming.  It’s everybody’s responsibility, in particular, the responsibility of Americans.

For more information about renewable energy publications or to find out how you can get  involved, please visit our website at gooddirtradio.org.

I’m Tami Graham and I’m Tom Bartels.  Thanks for joining us on Good Dirt Radio…digging up good news… for a change.

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