Solar Panels: 18 Day Assessment (Part 4)


In this last part I summarise the key points and observations.  

In Part 3 of this article, I provided our family’s carbon generation profile as a case study and examined some of the steps we could take to meet the 2020, 2030, and 2050 targets.  The points and observations below incorporate data from that case study and thus are specific to us and may be extrapolated more broadly to people living in Ontario, Canada.  People in Alberta may have a tougher road to travel; people in Quebec may find it easier.

  • For people living in Ontario, meeting 2020 targets may be possible through individual action, including energy conservation and modest lifestyle changes. 
  • To meet 2030 targets will require individuals to move away from fossil fuels to electric power, especially for heating and transportation. These are the major sources of carbon generation for our family.
  • Meeting 2050 targets will require  greening the electric power generation infrastructure, which means replacing fossil-fuel-based generation facilities with greener options. 
  • It is the 2050 targets that explain why there is the view that we (the world) need to be off fossil fuels by 2050
  • Solar is one option for generating green electricity.  
  • Solar power doesn’t need to replace all forms of power generation, just the carbon emitting ones, which in Ontario seems feasible.  
  • The value of a residential solar power generation solution is: [1] it avoids consuming open areas (country side) with “solar farms” by leveraging unused (rooftop) space [2] it distributes power generation and thus is less susceptible to local weather patterns [3] an opportunity to reduce transmission distance [4] generates power during peak utilization periods

Defining targets enables us to first grasp the challenge ahead — and may be get over the shock and denial — and then work out what can be done. With a plan comes confidence, obviating fear and concern.  

If it is true that globally we need to move off fossil fuels, then according to my case study, the next steps seem to be quite doable:

  • We need to convert our appliances to electricity by 2030.  That is 15 years and quite likely we can expect to have to replace our gas-burning appliances in that time frame anyways, so going electric will fit into our home maintenance schedule. 
  • If technology advances as expected, electric vehicles will be the norm in 2025, enabling a switch away from gas-burning cars.
  • Meanwhile, utilities can start the process of replacing fossil-fuel-based generation with greener solutions.  For this they could have until 2050 to complete, providing enough time to rollout or expand programs such as residential solar power generation.

There are other steps that have been reported in the media that governments have talked about, including:

  • Taxing Carbon: this needs to generate a revenue stream to fund upgrading the power generation infrastructure and encourage the use of low / no-carbon solutions as well as being a tool to keep total (national / provincial) carbon generation within targets.
  • Support third-world countries to implement greener power generation: In the overall scheme of things Canada’s contribution to the Carbon Generation problem is relatively small.  Helping emerging economies to offset the incremental cost of deploying green generation facilities over coal-fire solutions can make sense from a global perspective.  Allowing some sections in the world to generate tonnes of carbon is like having a pissing section in a swimming pool.
  • Stop subsidizing fossil fuels: Such subsidies contradict taxing carbon and pervert a free market system; they are anti-capitalistic.  

As a final note, the decisions that need to be made for how we address this problem affects those under 45 years old and who are yet to be born.  They are the ones who will need to live with the consequences of failure and the burden of debt, should there be any.  As such, while those over 45 should be encouraged to support measures to reduce carbon, they should not be allowed to stifle any efforts.   


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