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Solar powerA giant Swiss investment  bank thinks so. As the good folks at Think Progress point out in this story, 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:

“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. Read More

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Solar powerThe good people at the League of Conservation Voters have highlighted a couple of encouraging stories this morning in their weekly newsletter about the rapid progress occurring in the solar energy business (even as the fossil fuel industry and their paid helpers in government and the conservative think tanks do their utmost to stop it).

#1 – Environomics: Solar Jobs Leave Fracking in the Dust

The solar energy industry in NC already produces nearly eight times the number of jobs that fracking supporters predict their risky enterprise will create in our state — and unlike the fracking will-‘o-the-wisp, these real solar jobs are climbing fast. That’s 3,100 jobs and rising.

We’re already fourth in the nation in solar electric generating in the US, and half of that capacity was built just in the last year. And that power and jobs production from solar in NC will keep climbing—so long as legislators and regulators don’t listen to anti-renewable energy lobbyists and ideologues and do something stupid like throwing out the existing policies that are creating the solar boom here.

A few years ago, the big power companies’ trade association mocked solar energy with an ad using the Annie musical song, “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow”. In case they hadn’t noticed it, tomorrow is here, baby. More here.

#2 Around the Globe: Germany Makes Solar Breakthrough

For another stake in the heart of the myth that renewables can’t produce enough power to make a difference, here’s the latest from Germany. As of last month, that major industrialized nation produced a full half of its summer-day electric generation from solar power.

Not only that, but 90% of Germany’s solar generation is coming from rooftop installations rather than big solar farms. That kind of evidence should be enough to make folks over at the N.C. Utilities Commission re-think the stakes involved in the ongoing cases over rates to be paid for solar electricity.

Read the details about Germany’s recent solar electric production records here.

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FrackingIt was the administration of President George W. Bush that attempted to mask a giveaway to big timber corporations by plastering the label “Healthy Forests Initiative” on the whole scam. Now, in keeping with that proud tradition of deception in the cause of lifting up environmental degradation and corporate profits, North Carolina legislative leaders are attempting to ram through a new law to expedite the introduction of fracking into the state by disingenuously dubbing it the “Energy Modernization Act.”

Fracking is many things, but it is not “energy modernization.” Indeed, fracking represents “modernization” about as much as the widespread reintroduction of corporal punishment  would represent “education modernization.”

The fact of the matter is that fracking has been done for decades in the U.S. My own father “fracked” oil wells during the Eisenhower administration back in the 1950′s.

If anything, fracking represents the opposite of modernization — it is mid-20th Century fossil fuel exploitation at its destructive worst.  And while it appears that conservative politicians are bent on (and will not be dissuaded from) trying to bring fracking and the mess it produces to our fair state, the least they could do is be honest in labeling their efforts.

 

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Mitigation costs for 450 ppm

Global mitigation costs for stabilization at a level “likely” to stay below 2°C (3.6°F). Source: IPCC 2014 and www.thinkprogress.org

There’s more compelling evidence today — both around the world and here in North Carolina — of the urgent need to move to world economy off of its addiction to the heroin of fossil fuels. Moreover, as this story from the good people at Think Progress reports, such a shift can occur with only a minor economic hit if we act now.

“The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has just issued its third of four planned reports. This one is on ‘mitigation’ — ‘human intervention to reduce the sources or enhance the sinks of greenhouse gases.’ Read More