Monday, March 24, 2014

From Blackouts to Independent Power Systems: SolarCity says, "We Can Make It Happen!"

Take a look at this picture...what automatically comes to mind when you see this? My first thought was, “Good lord, where in the world is this?”

As it turns out, that question was pretty appropriate because this picture was not taken in the United States – it was taken in India. Less than two years ago, on July 31st, 2012, India suffered astronomically when three of its interconnected northern power grids all failed at the same time. The collapse affected an area that held about 670 million people…or roughly 10% of the world’s population. There were enormous traffic jams as there were no working traffic lights, and subway lines were stopped. Shops closed, businesses were halted, and coal miners were stranded in underground mines. Movement absolutely ceased without power.

According to a New York Times article, a historian named Ramachandra Guha said, “India needs to stop strutting on the world stage likes it’s a great power, and focus on its deep problems within.” And indeed, according to article authors Jim Yardley and Gardiner Harris, India does have an “inadequate infrastructure and a yawning absence of governmental action and leadership.” When your power lines look like a giant prehistoric bird nest…well, suffice it to say there are definitely some issues that need to be taken care of.

Despite India’s increased economic success, it is still considered a developing country because it lacks the infrastructure that would allow it to succeed fully, and many areas in India are ravaged by poverty and disadvantage.

Well, according to this article written by Stephen Lacey, a company called SolarCity might have the answer for many Indian citizens who want a reliable source of energy! In the third quarter of 2013, SolarCity installed “nearly a third of all U.S. residential PV [Photovoltaics],” and is now looking to move overseas! The company provides solar services to people who can’t necessarily afford to pay upfront for a power system. They have invested $7 million into Off-Grid Electric, a company based in Tanzania that provides solar energy services in Africa.

SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive said in a statement, “Solar power is already more cost-effective than kerosene and other polluting power sources that are common in the developing world. Many emerging economics skipped the build-out of phones lines to go straight to cell phones, and the combination of solar and storage can obviate the need for more power lines. Off Grid’s growth could have a profoundly positive impact on the economics, human health, and air and water quality in the markets it serves.”

Eliminating the need for power lines in India seems like a pretty great option when looking at that picture, and solar energy seems like a great option for people who are concerned about their health, their finances, and the health of their environment. Solar companies are ready to take off…they just need everyone else to demand lift-off!


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