I put solar panels on my roof soon after I built this house because I was trying to plan for my retirement. That makes me one of the lucky ones, but what about those who are renting? Or simply can’t afford to put solar panels on their roofs?
Given the soaring cost of energy, this article by Citizen Mum, an Aussie blogger, really hit the nail on the head:
‘The concept of a solar garden is new in Australia, and is being developed by Pingala, a citizen led co-operative focused on developing people-centred and socially just energy solutions. At its core the concept is very simple and based along the lines of a community garden, in that cooperative members have the opportunity to purchase plots (panels) in the solar garden and have the energy that is generated from the plot credited to their power bill. It is ideal for people in rental accommodation, apartments or homes that are not suitable for rooftop solar.’
To give a little context to that quote, Citizen Mum is talking about ‘mid-scale solar arrays’. These are like the solar panels we’re used to seeing when we see photos of solar farms – fields and fields of solar panels almost as far as the eye can see:
Yeah, like those but smaller, much, much smaller. Mid scale solar arrays are big enough to provide a decent amount of solar energy, but small enough to be ‘owned’ by a small town. Or as the quote suggests, owned by the individuals of that town.
If you’re interested in mitigating climate change, and perhaps saving yourselves some money long term, I strongly suggest you read the whole article on Citizen Mum’s blog.
One of the criticisms always levelled at renewable energy is that it’s intermittent. Or in layman’s terms, unreliable.
In recent years, that failing has become less acute thanks to all sorts of batteries, but to supply the kind of energy the modern world needs, the capacity of batteries has to become bigger, much bigger.
The link below leads to an article that describes an energy storage system being developed by MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology]. The system uses a variation of hydro power…under the sea:
The idea is that you’d build humungous hollow concrete balls and place them on the ocean floor. When wind farms floating on the surface produced energy, the excess energy – i.e. the energy not immediately needed by the grid – would be used to pump seawater out of the balls. Then, when the wind farms stopped producing energy, water would be allowed back into the balls via generators. That water would turn the turbines which would produce electricity until the balls filled with water again.
The bigger the ball, the better. 😉 Ahem…
I love the simplicity of the MIT concept. My Dad was a mechanical engineer and I loved watching his prototypes working simply because the laws of physics or whatever made it so. Think gravity, or water always flowing downhill etc. As a result, I absolutely love the idea of this underwater hydro system. Nevertheless, achieving such apparent simplicity would not be cheap. As the article says, there is no ship currently powerful enough to tow even one ball from the land to its resting place on the ocean floor. The problem is not insurmountable, but the startup costs would be substantial.
I’m really looking forward to the next ten years when so many of today’s wild ideas become reality. I hope this is one of them.