Sustainability

Renewable energy is risk averse – Just like you (and the NFL, Texas, and others you wouldn’t expect)

Maybe you chose a garden gnome in your yard to guard the spare house key. Or maybe you have it in a petunia planter, or under that nondescript rock. Keeping an extra key hidden near your house is a means of preventing against losing your keys and being locked out of your own home. We take precautions like these all the time – auto insurance, back up hard drives, and iPhone warranties; all protect us from an unwanted accidental outcome.

The people on “Doomsday Preppers” are the most extreme in risk aversion. They hoard years of food supplies and dig shelters into mountains. One of the hardest things to prep for is the loss of power. When the power goes out, we immediately lose access to devices many of us depend on hundreds of times a day. While some may like the peace and quiet time in their homes, other entities like hospitals and prisons face major dilemmas.

Recently Hurricane Sandy caused major inconveniences and worse. When I visited Jamaica a few months ago to meet people using our Schneider Electric solar inverters, there was one couple who was proud to tell me how they were they only house in the neighborhood with power after the storm. Their battery-based solar system had collected and stored energy before the storm, and used the stored energy to power the home during the grid outage.

Solar-panel_Stephanie-Kraemer

I bet this type of back-up power would have come in handy during the Super Bowl last weekend. Or would it have? It’s not hard to imagine the immensity of the energy required to power a NFL stadium. How many batteries would it take…? I’ll let the engineers figure out that one. Energy storage is one of the largest challenges facing wide-spread adoption of renewable energies. As GreenTech Media stated: it will take a “combination of technological breakthroughs, regulatory and policy support, and critical infrastructure” to push through solutions.

In the meantime, several teams have already implemented solar including the Patriots, Giants, Eagles, Seahawks and soon the 49ers. Come on, Cowboys; Texas is ripe for solar harvesting! In fact, the Public Utility Commission of Texas recently adopted amendments effectively assisting in expanding distributed renewable generation. The amendments recognize that renewable energies play a critical role in mitigating the impact of extended power outages.

So we have NFL stadiums and oil-rich Texas both investing in renewable energy. If you can believe it, a coal mining museum and a natural gas company have also recently installed solar systems. In addition to offsetting operating costs, these and all examples of renewable energy systems are examples of smart, risk-adverse investors.


One Response
  1. Bonnie DeWind

    What an interesting commentary– having a huge building like an NFL stadium harvest solar energy is a terrific idea! Keep up the great writing!

    Reply

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