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Solar energy saves the earth?

By Paul Robinson - 06 Apr 2014 16:20:1 GMT
Solar energy saves the earth?

As we chunter along our chosen path of emissions and pollution, the IPCC keep trying to remind us to be careful in our choice of fuels and in how we understand phenomena that some tell us are natural; Earth image; Credit: © Shutterstock

Berlin has seen many historical events, especially in the 20th century. It is unlikely to make history this week, tough, as the IPCC plan to unveil more advice on how to prevent climate change. They have finally managed to persuade us to accept the obvious global warming, although credit should really go to the enormous storms and other damage with the resultant loss of life from recent disasters.

Governments' problems in accepting responsibility seems the key. The more capitalist regimes demand the right to feed the greed of multinational and local business, so they are unlikely to give in to mild requests from organisations who don't pay them. Power politics is the only answer and real people themselves are responsible for this. Solar power is being advocated next as a major player in solving the renewable energy lobbies' perennial problem of getting into the marketplace.

With up to 25% increase in uses of solar PV panels before 2020 and wind energy currently increasing by only 5%, this IPCC move on recommending solar energies could be vindicated. They say quite correctly that time is running out for fossil fuel use and solar could eventually supply every energy need. Publication after their Berlin meetings will reveal a useful 29 page document.

According to this tome, up to 6% of the world economy will have to be dedicated to utilise low-carbon technology properly. In context, this would probably mean the equivalent of giving up war and the arms race! Impossible, but like war, the temperature rise has the most dramatic and irreversible consequences. With a 0.8 degree (Celsius) rise already, we will hit our determined limit of 2 degrees in around 20 years (say, 2034).

One of the numerous experts on such things, from the Stockholm Resilience Centre, is Johan Rockstrom. His quote is "The window is shutting very rapidly on the 2 degrees target," hinting that a 3 or even 4 degree target may have to be adopted. The consequences, give recent storms, is misery and death for so many people that the power politics become super-hurricane politics. Food supplies, water and sea-levels are simply the tip of the iceberg of natural disasters prescribed, if these targets were to be allowed.

These are the reasons why the UN are coming out with yet another report on why we have to quickly adopt new ideas. Apparently the gas, petrol, oil, coal and fracking pollution will not be helped by any projected carbon storage. We simply have to move on from the use of 17% of renewable or "clean" (but very, very expensive) carbon fuels to 100%. The projected maximum for 2050 would be 68%, at its maximum. There is simply no solution to that shortfall of at least 32%- and that alone could kill off hopes of preventing further global warming.

Last week, yet another "hopeful" report told us that every continent and country is now affected by warming, with their economies suffering badly already from loss of food and water supplies. In September, Paris reports on how to combat the climate change, but every report is against a background of governmental ineptitude and failure to respond.

We had annual totals of 49 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases in 2010 (a rise of 11 billion in only one decade) with the vain prediction of maintaining emissions to that level until 2030. Fossil fuel investment would have to drop by $30 billion with a concomitant increase in renewable energy investments by $147 billion. That leaves some of the decision making in the hands of financial institutions, so there is a need to be careful when you invest your money! Near-impossible!

This is the third and last climate change report by the UN. Opinion polls show people still hanging onto old beliefs, indicating education is essential, not only in poorer countries, but also in the 2 big polluters: the US and China.

The UN indications are that the PV cell in solar panels will be the only possible saviour, although it is hard to believe that wind power and the rapidly-developing tidal and wave systems won't change in impact as yet more technological advances help us out. New PV systems already use low light and employ east or west facing arrays, with amazing contrasts between their multi-crystal, though silicon-based cells The IPCC report next week will announce, "The technical potential for solar is the largest [of the renewable energy sources] by a large magnitude."

We can only hope both that they are right and that somebody somewhere listens and acts-immediately!

The Berlin report of the IPCC will publish next week in - IPCC Report from Berlin. We published a report on UK solar panel availability last week in Solar electricity.