I don’t know about you, but whenever I see a headline that the Trump Administration has made a new announcement, I generally assume that it’s bad news before I even read the article. This week on Sea Change Radio we dig deeper into one of those recent headlines, and see how bad the news actually is. The decision to impose a 30% tariff on solar panels and solar cells coming from overseas is a move that leaves most renewable energy advocates apoplectic. While some might point out that imposing the tariff could give an advantage to US-based solar component producers, many believe that the overall impact of this tariff will be to slow the expansion of solar power and to extend our reliance on fossil fuels further into the 21st Century. The Trump Administration points to the news that Chinese solar manufacturer, JinkoSolar, is building an American factory as “proof” that the tariff is the right move. But is this simply a straw-man argument? We discuss the ramifications of the change with Mother Jones environmental reporter Rebecca Leber and delve into the best and worst case scenarios of the policy decision. We also get Leber’s insight into the political future of EPA head Scott Pruitt, who is appearing before the Senate this week for an oversight hearing.
Our guest this week on Sea Change Radio, Gilbert Campbell III, the Co-Founder of Volt Energy, is here to remind us that sustainable energy is good, not only for the earth, but also for business. Campbell’s company, based in Washington, D.C., builds and operates solar projects, electric-vehicle charging stations, and offers energy storage solutions. We discuss how Volt Energy’s business model works, why there are not nearly enough minority-owned businesses in the renewable energy space, and the challenges of interacting with a new Administration that is openly hostile to science and minorities.
Think about the sunniest states in the U.S. Florida, the place that calls itself “the sunshine state” is sure to come to mind. Indeed, the solar industry considers Florida to be the state with the third greatest rooftop solar potential in the country. So the place must be almost totally off the grid at this point, right? Well, no. Florida boasts only 9,000 homes with solar rooftops, while New York, a state with a similar sized population, and a much less hospitable weather profile, has 25,000. What is going on with Florida? Do people there just really like to pay more for their electricity, or, is it something else? Our guest this week on Sea Change Radio is Rolling Stone reporter Tim Dickinson, who has just completed an excellent piece of investigative journalism on Florida and the role the Koch brothers play in thwarting the use of the world’s most renewable and abundant power source.
Perhaps the hardest job in professional football is that of the Punt Returner, who tries to avoid being torn to shreds by very large, rapidly approaching human beings. Our guest today on Sea Change Radio is Tim Dwight, who was a Kick Returner and Wide Receiver in the NFL for ten years. He now applies his David vs. Goliath skills to the solar industry, where he competes against fossil fuel giants and advocates for better energy policies as a solar lobbyist and an executive for a solar EPC, or Engineering Procurement and Construction company. We talk about his transition from one of the least sustainable careers you can think of, in every sense of the word, to one of the most sustainable. We also touch upon some of the systemic problems plaguing the NFL, including artificial turf and public stadium financing. And, finally, Dwight gives us a behind-the-scenes glimpse into his time spent with the Chargers, Falcons and Patriots.
Is your home one of the millions that haven’t been able to get solar because you’re a renter? The cost of solar panel installation is half of what it was just five years ago, which should be opening up opportunity everywhere. But many homes and businesses are locked out because they don’t own their rooftops. The good news is that policymakers are starting to look for creative ways to expand solar access — just recently, the Obama Administration announced a $520 million initiative for community solar farms which could allow everyone to get on board the renewable revolution. This week on Sea Change Radio, we talk about this community solar initiative in a panel discussion with Adam Browning and Katherine Bagley. Browning is the executive director of the non-profit solar advocacy organization, Vote Solar, and Bagley is an environmental reporter for Inside Climate News.
If you own an electric vehicle and you have solar panels on your house, you can drive around powered entirely by renewable energy. But what can EV owners who don’t have solar on their homes do to make sure they’re as green as can be? Mike Tinskey and his colleagues at Ford Motor Co. are trying to tackle that problem head on. Ford’s promising new C-Max Solar Energi Concept car has solar panels built right into the roof.
Today on Sea Change Radio host Alex Wise talks with Tinskey about how magnification technology borrowed from 19th Century lighthouses could be a key to making solar cars a practical reality, how Ford culture has changed in the last decade to embrace efficiency and ecological innovation, as well as the ins and outs of Flex Fuel technology.
How often do you hear of an idea so big, so revolutionary, that you immediately start to dream of the possibilities? This week on Sea Change Radio, we talk to the inventor of just such an idea. Up until now, the focus of reducing transportation-related carbon emissions has been on the types of vehicles we’re driving, but Scott Brusaw believes the answer is actually right under our noses, or rather right under our tires. Solar roadways hold the promise to turn our roads, playgrounds, parking lots and driveways not only into safer, more sustainable surfaces but also into producers of energy. Solar roadways – this week on Sea Change Radio.
Here’s a link to the hilarious new video promoting Solar Roadways:
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.
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.
Is living sustainably a plausible proposition? That’s the crucial question today’s first guest on Sea Change Radio, David MacKay, is trying to answer. MacKay, the Chief Scientific Advisor to the Department of Energy and Climate Change in Great Britain and the author of the seminal work, “Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air,” is one of the most important figures in the environmental policy field. A physicist and information theorist, MacKay is a master of breaking down the numbers for us all to better assess the planet’s renewable energy options. He discusses his pro-nuclear stance and his advocacy for the development of carbon capture and storage technology, which remains unpopular in many environmental circles. Next, host Alex Wise speaks with the Mayor of Sebastopol, California, Michael Kyes, who has advanced environmental policy in his own way – the small town recently passed an ordinance requiring all new homes to be solar-equipped.