“We are at the start of a solar revolution. The solar energy industries have taken off in the past decade, growing forty-fold globally from 2008 to 2018 with few signs of slowing down. More than 99.9% of all photovoltaic modules and concentrated solar power plants ever built were installed after 2008. That year the photovoltaic industry produced 170 megawatts’ worth of modules, enough to power a quarter of a million homes on a sunny afternoon. At the end of 2018, cumulative photovoltaic installations surpassed 500 gigawatts (GW), over a thousand times the annual production a decade earlier, and enough to power over two hundred million homes.” Dustin Mulvaney in his book “Solar Power: Innovation, Sustainability, and Enivornmental Justice”

Solar Power is no longer an alternative energy. It is the future of electricity, which is why we called our company Futricity: future + electricity.

One of the resources we use a lot is BloombergNEF, which is a leading provider of primary research on clean energy, advanced transport, digital industry, innovative materials and commodities. BNEF

This is one of our favorite memes we made: it perfectly describes the road ahead, plugging into the sun and powering our world through renewable green solar technology.

We are often asked about the environmental impact of Solar Energy components. The NET social and environmental benefits of solar power are irrefutable: more jobs, higher quality of life, significant reduction in air pollution and GHGs (greenhouse gas emissions).

Will this hold true when solar power is measured in terawatts: a hundred times today’s annual production? The US department of Energy funded the Sunshot Initiative to study exactly what the impact of a global move to solar energy production will be. They estimated that for us to push manufacturing levels to 20 GW per year, production of supply chain materials would need to increase as follows: 6% for glass, 520% for polysilicon, 38% for teleurium, 160% for indium, and 30% for silver. We believe that proactively preparing for the ecological and environmental impact of these increased demands on natural resources will mitigate the risks. Ethical global governance in this is crucial, which for us means we in Canada must actively seek out partnerships with producers that share our corporate citizenship and leadership values.

For more detailed information on this we suggest you find Peter Newell and Dustin Mulvaney’s post “The Political Economy of the ‘Just Transition'” to be found in the Geographical Journal 179, no. 2 (2013) Pages 132-140.

This brings us to another impact of the Solar Energy revolution. Land use. Fossil and nuclear fuels are concentrated energy sources, where as the sun is diffuse. To capture the sun’s power we need to expand our geographic footprint and that has to be acknowledged as a price to be paid. We are delighted to find that studies have shown that Solar Farms are good for biodiversity. Check out Solar's Impact on Biodiversity

More studies released that support the findings in the UK which looked at 11 Solar Farms.

But it’s not all good news. The “Energy Sprawl” is already causing conflicts in the California deserts. Other deserts around the world are attracting proposals and investment proposals for utility scale solar power plants. We don’t think we need to be the bad guy. With intelligent planning there are endless opportunities to use built environments, abandoned agricultural or disturbed land, parking lots, landfills… the list when you stop and look around is endless. We are even looking at “Floatovoltics” (and not just because it sounds cool!): literally as it sounds, a floating volt production unit on reservoirs, open bodies of water where the visual pollution will minimally impact communities.

Energy Justice

We keep a close watch on all areas that impact global Solar Energy production, installations, technology and its impact on the globe. We support Energy Justice, which is “a global energy system that fairly distributes both the benefits and burdens of energy services, and one that contributes to more representative and inclusive energy decision making.”

For more on this read “New Frontiers and Conceptual Frameworks for Energy Justice” in Energy Policy 105, no. 6, 2017, pages 677-91.

Our R&D division is going to work on finding the next generation technology in both solar cell and energy storage. One of the key focuses of our development is reducing the environmental, ecological and social impacts of manufacturing and recycling the components used. Sustainability is an important building block of solar power.

But what about B.C. specifically?

As technology has developed in both solar cell and batteries, we have seen increasing demand for solar panel installation.  In BC that demand has received a boost from the Government’s ambitious CleanBC platform which seeks to reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions to 80% BELOW 2007 levels by 2050.  In order to reach that target BC will have to completely electrify its industries, buildings and transport. 

Today BC produces one third of its energy from a low carbon electricity grid, but two thirds remains stuck in burning fossil fuels.  The move towards reducing GHG emissions guarantees the future of solar energy, the cleanest, and we think, the only truly green renewable energy source.

We estimate that BC will need to increase electricity supply by 50% to meet 2030 goals; to meet the 2050 goal electricity production from a low carbon electricity grid will have to DOUBLE!

Bloomberg New Energy Finance indicates that by 2050, solar and wind will account for 50% of GLOBAL energy generation capacity. Fossil fuels will see their GLOBAL share drop, with coal shrinking to just 11%. 

We are often asked about other sources of clean energy: hydro, nuclear and wind.  Why do we believe solar energy is the superior clean energy source?

Hydro electricity is relatively clean and safe, but it’s limited to rivers that can be dammed.  We have seen the social implications flooding lands has in BC and there is a strong political movement fighting against any increase.  We have seen around the world the significant threat dams pose to neighbouring towns and cities if they are compromised in any way.

Nuclear power produces toxic waste that we still have no solution for.  We saw in Fukushima Daichi 2011, Chernobyl 1986, Three Mile Island 1979 and SL-1 1961 just how devastating a nuclear accident can be. Those are just the incidents the media followed: Kashiwazaka-Kariwa nuclear power plant was shut down for 21 months following an earthquake in 2007; erosion of the 150-ml carbon steel reactor head at Davis Besse failed in 2002.   The risk is just too great to support a move to nuclear energy as a long-term renewable energy source.

Wind power remains highly controversial as it requires giant turbines that pose significant risks to birds and bats, produce noise and visual pollution.  Wind does not blow reliably which leaves turbines working at about 30% capacity.  There are significant limits on where it is possible to place wind turbines and inevitably a vociferous response from those who will have to live near them or have their beloved landscape lost to them.  The expense of setting up a wind farm is exorbitant, as is the maintenance and repair costs once the investment is made.

At Futricity Solar we are certain that solar energy is the future of electricity.   We know that we can develop technologies in both solar cells and batteries that will make solar energy increasingly more efficient, using less of our precious natural resources and guided by the principles of Energy Justice. 

The future of energy is renewable, sustainable, just: the future is solar.

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