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Eco-Friday blog post - The future is bright - or is it?

Taken at face value, solar energy is an unquestionably intuitive, sustainable, solve-half-the-world’s-problems energy solution. It’s clean, renewable, accessible and free at the source.

Rationally it’s a no brainer. And it’s not as if it’s new technology. Yet as a mainstream energy solution, there still seems to be something missing.

We’ve been investigating renewable energy options for 18 months and I’ve found the process to be confusing, frustrating, unconvincing, and, at times, a little elitist. Looking at the renewable energy generation by state, less than 10% of energy in Queensland comes from renewable energy, of which a large chunk is Hydro and Wind.

And while apparently half a million Queensland homes have some type of solar system installed, it’s mostly small scale and relatively insignificant when compared with overall energy usage.

Attending a Zero-emissions Noosa focus group recently helped provide us with some context around solar take up. Zero emissions Noosa is a group established with the aim of assisting the Noosa Shire community to become net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2026.

Great. Awesome idea. A commendable initiative. We are fully on board. And yet, within minutes of the session starting, they acknowledged it was an impractical, improbable and idealistic target.

Sitting and listening further to their presentation, we were perplexed by the ‘why’ – why aren’t people ‘joining the solar revolution’, as it is often advertised, when it is such a no brainer?

Our response then and now would have been simple – trust. Too many solar company representatives, solar advertising, solar promotions are akin to the dishonest car-salesman-like cliché. The idea is a revolutionary one, but it’s become manipulated and packaged up by profit driven organisations. And that’s where the problem lies.

It’s fine to have big dreams and goals, but for a successful show we first need to be sure we understand the audience and the ticket prices, and more crucially, ensure that no one else is trying to provide false advertisement, sell knock-off merchandise or tout tickets. Solar, and other renewable energy solutions are too important for that.

The time to act on climate change was probably 50 years ago, but given that ship has long powered off, guzzling fuel as it went, the next best time to act is now.

On the surface, there are seemingly hundreds of initiatives being set up all across Australia. But how many are truly prioritising making a difference over making a dollar?

Mainstream renewable energy is now a for profit industry, which ironically, is the type of industry that has almost completely depleted some of our planets finite natural resources. But this is the one arena in which we are all, globally, equal. Equally affected, equally responsible.

Solar energy should not be caught up in the same consumerist bubble that we seem happy to exist in most of the time. We need to step back and look at the bigger together to ensure that it is as accessible as water, for as many people as is possible. It should be straightforward, well-regulated and owned and invested in by people. For all of our tomorrows!

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