PARIS 2015: The Tipping Point of Energy As We Know It…The 2017 Solution?

Although the actual agreement won’t be signed until April 2016, the COP21 result was a victory for everyone, at least symbolically. The Thai climate conference delegation, on the other hand, according to Bangkok Post, has refused to commit to any financial assistance for undeveloped countries’ efforts to combat climate change, to many’s disappointment. Perhaps the position will change for the actual signing early 2016, is yet to be seen, however, with little hope given the current political situation. Other than that, the summit was able to convene a successful consensus, where 197 nations agreed to go on board, together, against a climate disaster before we tread too close to the threshold on ice much too thin.

Momentous Factors:

There were several reasons why 197 nations decided to ratify the cause. To name a few, first and foremost, the Pope’s encyclical, along with a number of other factors, namely; the last chance to cut a deal at the table, MIT’s research suggesting renewable platforms are for the first time viable both tech and economical wise, China and other major players making carbon pledges ahead of Paris, and, last but most importantly, the realization that there is plenty of funds available to boost the much deserving infant stage clean energy industry when taking in to account the otherwise off-limit fossil-fuel subsidies that amount to as much as $5.3 trillion a year that fossil-fuel companies are benefitting from, worldwide, according to International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s startling estimate. Thus, the post-summit oil price took a sky-dive as we have seen

All of the momentous factors combined wouldn’t be a big enough push to get COP21 over the hump, though, not without the catalyst, nor vice versa, the catalyst without momentum. What really transcended the energy tipping point – is probably the nature of the drafted agreement. Instead of the typical top-down mandatory enforceable law, COP21 drafted a ‘let’s-meet-halfway’ agreement that stated the desirable objective, i.e., curbing emissions in relation to preindustrial levels in light of preventing climate temperature from snowballing beyond the 2°C threshold, with an open-ended implementation that allows each nation to have their own say of to how exactly they want to meet the lifesaving objective. Although the objective is by any measure ambitious, it’s the only way the world could come together. Technically, the meet-halfway strategy makes a lot of sense when taking in to consideration the tremendously diverse geographical and climate conditions in different regions, and therefore, the varying potential between renewable generators, they be solar, wind, geothermal, and etc. Fuel Cell, on the other hand, seems to be a lot less conditional to location. Of course, nuclear isn’t taken off the table either with the promises of Thorium. Thorium is a substitute to nuclear energy derived from the notorious uranium and plutonium. Gurus claim it carries the positivity in quantities and availability, shorter half-lifes, minimal waste and pollution, its ability to consume and recycle existing waste from uranium and plutonium, and, as the rumor goes, its unweaponizable byproduct qualities that led it being abandoned in the first place during the buildup to WWI. However, advances in fusion and other energetical fronts, including Elon Musk’s Gigafactory that carries that last missing piece of the solar and wind puzzle, little attention has been given to Thor, the Norse god of thunder.

The Meet-Halfway Approach:

And so, this could be the nature of legislation from this point onward. Where the state simply proposes a concept and the desirable outcomes, and, should it be agreed upon and regulated, the “people” figure out the implementation part that best fits their local conditions, enforce it, along with financial aids (carrots) and economical limitations (sticks) accordingly to commitment and performance. Aside from the cause itself, it was the nature of policy crafting that was also endorsed by diversity, in the sternest of connotations that led to the tipping point of energy as we know it. As impressive as it is, skeptics believe implementing the hype is where the true challenge lies. Pres. Mandela’s soundbite, for example, was cited by the representatives from Southern Africa at Paris 2015 upon the symbolic climate victory announced: “After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.” The very notion seems to be the mentality of most officials that, should they sign the papers early 2016, will need to carry the open ended agreement back home, and somehow, find a way to get everyone on board and decide how to implement it. US’s Pres. Obama team has spearheaded the movement from the very beginning. Yet, he too probably wonders how on earth such a bill would be accepted by the Republicans, the last assembly on the planet that attributes global warming to animal farts and water evaporation from a flat earth. For them to get on board the solution must be not only a profitable one, it has to appear as it had been their own initiative from the beginning. Another meet-halfway benefit – the republicans can have a say of to how they want it done, if they want if at all. Considering the renewable industry still being in the infantry stage with massive economic potentials by being able to harness power from thin clean air, they probably will.

Pres. Obama-Elon Musk Handshake: “COP21 worry not, we got this.”

As California solar and wind tech companies have discovered, storage capacity is the missing piece of the puzzle. Besides the Gigafactory’s capacity to roll out enough lithium ion batteries to power around 500,000 electric vehicles and/or a magnitude of homes per plant, and therefore – scale, it is also the first of its kind in man’s history where the entire mechanism is powered from 100% clean energy sources, and, since it’s situated in the middle of the desert, no eco-system had to make way in light thereof, either. The idealistic point, previously impossible, where the capitalist and the environmentalist meet without reducing their cause, nor trump the other’s. Clean from the very beginning to the finish line and beyond during consumption makes it indisputably “the” Zero-Footprint cradle of advancement and sustainability for the 21st century and beyond – just the solution the COP21 officials are looking for. Although currently limited pro-renewable (blue) states, thanks to Pres. Obama for shaking hands with Elon back in 2008, California has validated wind and solar’s power generation capacity, and now the New York Times just reported that utilities are signing contracts to buy power from renewables for less than the cost of electricity from fossil fuels. Whenever the new batteries start form enough smart grids, solar and wind should swiftly go US-wide, and there’s a high probability that CO2 tax caps and Cap and Trade measurements will be rolled out around the same time, as well. Techinsider.com puts it, “for those unfamiliar, Tesla describes its massive 5.5 million square-foot Gigafactory as a way to “accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable transportation.”

SolarCity.com:

Unlike solar anywhere else in the world: SolarCity.com offers eligible customers a nationwide-( limited to pro-blue renewable states)-most-popular utility plan; the SolarPPA which installs a roof full of solar – for free, no installation fee, no panel expenses, and with free repairs and a production guarantee at no additional cost, including 24/7 monitoring system, roof protection (30 days), and moving options in case the home might need to be sold. Pretty much, customers secure a low electricity rate for up to 20 years and the only payment they have is a monthly bill which is considerably lower than the usual utility bill. Other plans are offered such as MyPower, SolarBond, SolarLease, and upfront purchases. The plans have been so popular they increase the home value in the real estate market by a margin.

2017?:

With the strong COP21 momentum, funding can most likely be made available to expand on SolarCity and Gigafactory concepts, where the latter goes live by 2017 (according to construction completion schedule). With world’s superpowers and tech giants scrambling for a Gigafactory of their own for a sufficient supply of the cutting-edge battery, perhaps in IoT terms, we might witness the new energy grid leap ahead of communication and logistics a lot earlier than previously expected. The third industrial revolution sure looks poised to stem from the energy department. And it’s Watts-up all over again, but this time it’s Sasiprapa, an auspicious light of warmth, from outer space.

Compiled by BLOG.SCGLogistics
Reference and Pictures  bbc.com, theguardian.com, solarcity.com, wsj.com, pablosolon.wordpress.com, technisider.io, seia.org, Bamgkokpost.com, unfccc.int

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