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Could renewable energy soon be reaching a tipping point?

Solar power [1]A giant Swiss investment  bank thinks so. As the good folks at Think Progress point out in this story [2], the bank, UBS, has issued a new report in which it concludes that Europe may soon be approaching the point at which “large-scale, centralized electricity generation from fossil fuels could be a thing of the past.”

The reason for this incredibly hopeful prospect is pretty straightforward: “a three pronged assault from solar power, battery technology, and electric vehicles…will render obsolete traditional power generation by large utilities that rely on coal or natural gas.” Talk about a great response to the problem of coal ash production!

Meanwhile, here in the states, activists and entrepreneurs continue to make important inroads in advancing the cause of renewables despite the stubborn resistance of giant fossil fuel companies and the politicians and right-wing “think tanks” on their payrolls. A classic and hopeful example was in my email inbox this morning from the state chapter of the Sierra Club [3]:

“Clean Energy For Raleigh” kicks-off program to fast track solar and energy efficiency for homeowners and businesses

RALEIGH – Clean Energy For Raleigh (CE4R), a ground-breaking community-based program that makes the adoption of solar power and energy efficiency upgrades cheaper and easier, has made its way to Raleigh.

“This model blows away the three biggest barriers to adopting clean energy – cost, red-tape, and inaction,” said Chelsea Barnes, the CE4R community coordinator and a volunteer with the NC Sierra Club Capital Group, the program’s sponsor.

“Over the past year in Asheville, this program has resulted in 74 solar contracts and 20 energy efficiency contracts. That’s remarkable – not just for cutting pollution and saving people money but also for fast-tracking the clean energy economy,” said Barnes.

The CE4R campaign will provide free home energy audits on a first-come, first-served basis to everyone who qualifies for the program, as well as citywide discounted pricing on solar for those who decide to take that step. “A thorough energy audit normally costs between $200-$300 and shows the building owner what they can do to increase efficiency, building performance, and air quality.”

CE4R enlists community volunteers and neighborhood leaders to help spread the word about the program. The program has already chosen reputable, local clean energy companies through a competitive selection process and scheduled free educational events on September 22, October 14, and November 16 for the public to learn about the technologies, meet the installers and finance partners, ask questions, and get the details about tax incentives and utility rebates.

“The first step is for people to visit our website at www.cleanenergyfor.us/clean-energy-for-raleigh and fill out the assessment form to enroll in the program. There is no cost or obligation when you enroll,” said Barnes.

The enrollment period for the free energy audit and discounted solar pricing runs from September 3 to November 14, 2014.

The CE4R solar installers include Yes! Solar Solutions and Southern Energy Management. Energy Savers of NC will provide expert installation of residential energy-saving measures such as duct-sealing and insulation. Energy Investment Partners will work with commercial participants to select and implement energy conservation investments.

The program is sponsored by the NC Sierra Club Capital Group, part of the largest, oldest, and most effective environmental organization in the country. Please contact Chelsea Barnes for more information or to volunteer with the campaign.

Chelsea Barnes
CE4R Community Coordinator
Co-Chair, Sierra Club Capital Group