As little as 10 years ago, if you were concerned about the coal or natural gas power plant that your municipality was using to generate electricity, there wasn’t much that you as a single consumer could do about it.
Energy generating technology has been centralized, scaled up, and monopolized locally; your home is hooked up to the grid. If you were the kind of dedicated soul who had a desire to transition your energy consumption from fossil fuels to renewable sources you could have tried putting up a small wind turbine, erecting massive solar panels in your back yard, or drilling a hole deep into the ground below your home for geothermal.
The problem has traditionally been that these options were exorbitantly expensive, difficult to get permits for, and probably banned by your home owner’s association or by bylaws due to their intrusiveness in established municipal areas. As an average middle-class consumer, you were likely stuck getting the energy you needed to run your life from a large centralized fossil fuel based power generating station.
Fossil fuel power generation has been a staple of the municipal energy market for decades. The ability to have a centralized power generating station was crucial to the way our cities have expanded and modernized.
To make energy cheaper generating stations had to get larger, and to get larger they had to move away from local consumers. However, the centralization of energy sources has inevitably led to a small number of companies holding control over the energy producing plants we see today. While convenient, this means that businesses that have spent massive amounts of capital investing in large scale infrastructure built on fossil fuels are now the ones being pushed to move to renewable energy sources. It is unsurprising that these businesses are hesitant to change.
Today, consumers are taking matters back into their own hands, becoming a driving force for clean energy generation whether that is their stated goal or not.
On the horizon households will no longer be forced into having to pull energy from the centralized grid. Technology has progressed to a point where consumers can generate their own energy from their own homes, decentralizing energy production – a tipping point for renewable energy. Through companies such as Telsa and Forward Labs consumers are gaining access to a product (solar roof tiles being the latest and greatest iteration thereof) that liberates their energy production.
For example, Tesla claims that its solar roof tiles would be able to completely power the needs of an average home, last for decades, be comparable in cost to re-tiling a roof, and look exactly like any other roof tile on the market. This technology solves all the major problems that have kept consumers from acting towards their energy independence over the past decades.
When consumers realize the benefits of having a decentralized power generating technology that provides energy freedom and financial independence from a local monopoly they suddenly become the driving force towards clean power.
No longer is the onus on fossil fuel companies to abandon their investments, the wind that fills the sails of municipal energy generation will come from individual consumers participating in the market, each making the decision that is in their financial best interest.
Majority market share of clean, renewable power can become a reality – not just by forcing energy generating businesses to slowly change and abandon investments as once thought, but instead through liberating consumers to make their own energy choices and providing them with the technology to do so in a sustainable way.
Photo 1: Riccardo Annandale
Photo 2: Tesla Inc.
Brendan can be reached at:
Email: Bgsuch.env @ gmail.com
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