The signs of solar power becoming a truly self-sustaining industry are manifold: Solar manufacturing costs fell by between 70 and 80 per cent from 2007 to 2012 while at the same time, the efficiency rates of solar panels continue to improve. But this success has also led to pushback from many of our nation’s utilities.
This week on Sea Change Radio, we speak again to the Executive Director of Vote Solar, Adam Browning, to discuss some of the policies that have helped the solar explosion, how public utilities are reacting to the success of solar in very different ways, and what steps are being taken to start getting solar to the millions of Americans who are not homeowners.
A couple of decades who could have imagined that a gust of wind wafting across a Wyoming plain could power an air conditioner as far off as Southern California? But it very well may be happening soon. This week on Sea Change Radio, host Alex Wise speaks with Shalini Ramanathan, a Texas-based wind energy consultant who gives us a peek into new advances in the wind industry and how these are enabling wind to blow open our nation’s interstate power grid.
Then, we hear from the mayor of Sebastopol, California, Michael Kyes, who told us last year about how his town passed some controversial, yet effective solar power ordinances to get off of fossil fuels and make this humble municipality a trailblazer in the shift to sustainability.
Today’s show starts off in Zambia. Worldwide, an estimated 1.5 billion people do not have access to electricity. In Zambia more than 80% of the population has no access to electricity according to the World Bank. It has been shown that providing access to power can be tremendously beneficial to people’s education, their health and their livelihood.
Our first guest on Sea Change Radio this week is Moira Hanes, who describes what her relatively small nonprofit, Empowered By Light, is doing to try to change this big problem, harnessing solar power in sun-drenched areas like sub-Saharan Africa.
Next, we come back to California where, after 80 years of extinction, a lone wolf has appeared in the Golden State. Author Joe Donnelly recounts the tale of California’s lone wolf who wandered in from Oregon and unwittingly raised a controversy between environmental groups who want to protect the possible resurgence of wolves in California, and ranchers and others who don’t.
Last week on Sea Change Radio host Alex Wise spoke to Adam Browning, the executive director of Vote Solar, a non-profit organization that advocates for solar power adoption. This week, the second part of his discussion with Browning. We discuss the lessons we can learn from success stories like the German solar industry as well as high-profile flops like Solyndra. Then, we dig into the Sea Change Radio archives to hear from Matt Wasson, whose non-profit Appalachian Voices works to reduce the impact of coal on the Appalachian region.
Listening to the national dialogue on energy policy can be a little discouraging. Not only does it feel like progress is not happening fast enough, it often feels like as a regular person you’re just not going to have any way to influence energy policy. Enter Vote Solar. Vote Solar is a grassroots solar policy advocacy organization that reminds us that all politics is local and that tremendous progress can be made by focusing on local regulatory roadblocks.
Our guest this week on Sea Change Radio is Adam Browning, the executive director of Vote Solar. Driven by a vision of affordable and widespread renewable power, Browning co-founded the organization after a successful campaign in San Francisco for a bond measure that would enable more residents to adopt solar power. While they now have national reach, Vote Solar does not concentrate its efforts on a national front – as Browning likes to say, “If your plan involves congress, it’s a bad plan.” Listen now as Browning describes to host Alex Wise how solar initiatives are being advanced from deep blue California to scarlet Georgia, on the basis of simple economic sense.
Aside from some aesthetic advances and rudimentary low-flow innovations, the modern flush toilet basically has not evolved since its prototype first appeared at the end of the 16th Century. This year, Bill and Melinda Gates thought they’d accelerate the flow of progress by holding a contest to invent a better toilet. Across the globe over 2 and a half billion people don’t have access to adequate sanitation. The result: disease and death in the developing world that could be avoided entirely if only someone could come up with a toilet that didn’t require running water, electricity, or septic systems, wasn’t expensive, and didn’t create pollutants. Our guest today on Sea Change Radio is part of a team that invented precisely such a toilet. Clement Cid and a group of other Caltech graduate students, under the leadership of Caltech engineer Michael Hoffman, built a toilet that not only runs off of solar power, it actually creates hydrogen fuel and usable water. Hear how this team came up with the design that won the Gates Foundation contest and could potentially augur a cleaner, safer life for billions of people all around the world.
Solar power is an essential part of the green technology revolution, a movement that has the potential to create jobs that are good for the community and the environment. But when we think about who’s actually benefitting from solar right now, it tends to be mid-to-upper income individuals and households. This week on Sea Change Radio, we speak to two women whose organizations are creating templates to make solar power an equitable component of a carbon-free tomorrow.
First, we hear from Erica Mackie, the co-founder of GRID Alternatives, a non-profit solar installer that focuses on getting solar electricity to low income families. Then, host Alex Wise speaks with Jeanine Cotter, the CEO of Luminalt, a San Francisco-based solar installer that hires much of its workforce through local community based organizations. Both women envision a solar industry that benefits a wider swath of the community and offers working people a fair living wage.
Founder of Sungevity (a Sea Change Radio sponsor), social entrepreneur, and a former Greenpeace campaign manager, solar executive Danny Kennedy sits down with host Alex Wise to update us on all things solar. Here’s a link to the Don Blankenship/Robert F. Kennedy Jr. debate that Wise and Kennedy discuss as well.
Last week on Sea Change Radio, we heard from someone who, despite the recent nuclear disaster in Japan, defended the continued exploration of nuclear power as part of the new energy equation. This week, we’ll hear an alternative perspective. Our first guest is solar power executive Danny Kennedy, who thinks that nuclear power is more of a problem than a solution, and that investment in renewable energy is a more practical, safer and far more reasonable approach.
Then, Sea Change Radio host Alex Wise speaks with geophysicist Ben Brooks, a specialist in earthquake science who works with breakthrough technology in seismology and GPS. He explains what scientists now understand about the different types of earthquakes, and talks about the West Coast’s vulnerability to the type of quake that recently struck Northern Japan.