Installing renewables on people’s homes

OK, this is not a claim to have a solution. This is actually a question and call for conversation for people who know better.

Energy companies are not really interested in distributed renewable energy – even if this might solve many of our problems related to energy and pollution. The main reason is, they loose their business. If you are in the business of selling energy to customers, by putting up big energy generation schemes like nuclear energy or gas and oil burning utilities, then you are not really happy about people installing solar panels and the like in their homes.

However, installing such devices on our roofs, gardens, terraces etc. is still quite costly. Many house owners can not afford to do it, also because in many places feed-in tariffs (payments to home energy producers who feed surplus back to the grid) often are not enticing enough, making a pay off only possible in a 15 to 20 years time.

So I was thinking (and I am convinced someone else must have had thought about this before), what if those energy companies would install renewable energy generation devices like windmills, solar panels and the likes on peoples homes and in private space? They would not have to build gigantic costly utilities, and also reduce the amount of transmission investments. People would not be bothered with investments – and would still be paying for energy, even if it is generated on their roofs (in urban areas, this might be even more interesting, as most people share space in some building).

Of course, this would need to be calculated etc. to see if such a business could be viable.

What I know communities are starting to do is to actually take this challenge on themselves. You might for example found a community owned company (for example a Community Interest Company CIC in the UK), which runs the local energy generating scheme, and sells the energy back to the community (and maybe surplus to the grid at higher price). This is what http://www.tresoc.co.uk is doing in Totnes.

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Maturing species

I was 16, and my path ahead looked like many others: study at engineering school, find a job, marry. Suddenly though I realized the world was not working as smoothly as my tranquil childhood had suggested. I grew up in Switzerland, a very wealthy place. Environmental destruction and an economic system devoid of feelings, love and care, but fueled by greed and voracity, conquering every corner of our physical planet and our souls, saddened my spirit. Slowly but steadily an idea was taking possession of my mind: that our society be unsustainable, and that it would ultimately have to crumble and destroy itself, environmentally, economically, socially – in any imaginable combination.

I increasingly felt disconnected with society – and never felt I knew what my place in it would be. In those years there was no Internet, and around me, a small town in the heart of Switzerland, people just seemed preoccupied in getting along, going to work, attracting new projects, manage their careers. Was I the only one seeing how desperately bad we were treating nature? How our economic arrangements were affecting us deeply, breaking families, invading our relationships and claiming more and more of our time? I refused to drive a car, to travel far, to follow passions which seemed to imply resource depletion or pollution. My social connections were probably admiring my dedication, many sympathized; others surrendered to drug abuse and even lost their life in the struggle (we are talking of the 80s, the time of the Needle Park in Zurich). But most could not follow the deprivation path I was suggesting, and many went so far as to dismiss my warnings as pure hippie-ish doom-say.

No positive response to what I felt was most needed – a reintegration with nature – did reach my senses. My mind concluded that we had to go back to nature.

Eventually it dawned upon me that nothing in nature goes back – everything evolves. I had been lucky enough to not have abandoned my apprenticeship as electrical draftsman, which allowed me to enter the local university of applied sciences a few years later. Technology bore the promise of helping ease the earth’s pains, I heard intuitively, and my enthusiasm to contribute to a clean society kindled again. But then the pressure of having to make money came afloat, I entered industry, worked as a consultant, made substantial amounts of money. But I knew I was not happy. And in this highly competitive world of consultancy, I felt again the sense of disconnection.

Nevertheless, these were the times of the first really constructive responses to the challenges I had identified: the first organic shops started to appear, people began waste separation, and the environmental agenda became mainstream (of course I was aware of its origins in the 60s, nevertheless it always seemed so marginal to me), and renewable energies were openly discussed. I do not know how I could praise enough those early pioneers, spearheading the movements, constructing awareness, infiltrating hearts, liberating energies, and connecting to source.

For me though the apocalyptic story had firmly taken over my mind. While I was applauding all these initiatives, I could not help interpreting them as the proverbial drop in the ocean. I dreamed of simple eco-villages with appropriate technology as a new model for human settlements – after Babylon would have collapsed…

The new millennium, with its continued wars, and then the economic crisis of the last few years, and the ever more imminent year 2012, pregnant with prophecies of all couleur, continued hijacking my mind into believing the end game was near.

All the while my heart was still dreaming of a better world – but one recovering out of the ashes of today’s cities. A small scale world it would be.

Only now I am awakening to the beauty and profoundness of the evolving universe. Only now it is I am beginning to comprehend its deep wisdom, its driving force, its pervasive spirit – its love.

The human species is undergoing a metamorphose. New forms of connecting us, of divulging information, of exchanging ideas, are accelerating what we may be describe as a shift in frequency of Rupert Sheldrake’s morphic resonance. Competition, growth, profit, even economy, are terms being shed like an old skin. Collaboration, cooperation, share, love – these are the messages of the butterfly being born. And its flying everywhere!

I am truly amazed to see how the healing professions are being imbued with concepts and approaches purely based on harnessing the self-healing power of the human body. Quantum theory has conspired with holistic medicine to open up fascinating worlds of possibilities for human development. There is an army of coaches, mentors and shamans growing, connecting to source those who seek them up, speaking of love, empowering them to unfold their true potential – and they are training and assisting leaders, emerging voices, as well as any interested individuals. Where may be all go this way!

The social entrepreneurs movement is probing into cracking the code which has been locking us in to the powers that be so far: money and the economy. These pioneers are venturing to balance the high rope between business, service, making a living, and sustainability, while exploring the boundaries of value exchange and value systems – what do we really care for? What makes us happy? How can we co-create wealth? How can we share wealth? How can we realize our dreams while doing good and protecting what is nurturing us – our very home?

The list of governments embracing open data and transparency is growing – blurring the frontiers of “us” and “them”, creating participative space for interaction and citizenry. Speaking of participation – that’s palpable everywhere, from social networks, to self-publishing, to media-platforms, to physical public space. People are not mere clients anymore – they co-create. Medialabs, hackerspaces, makerspaces – labs all the way redefine the intersection of human essence, urbanity, arts, technology, and science. All this while the sciences continue to churn out new technologies for sustainable and clean energy, only hold back to take flight by arguments of costs and investment.

Sure, there’s still work to be done, but it feels like the same way we are creating exponentially increasing connections through the web and in the physical realm, the more approaches to tackle single problems, complex challenges, local issues as well as global threats there are materializing. Truly, truly amazing.

What fuels my trust that we have reached a bifurcation point, a critical mass, representing a major shift as a human species, is the fact that any institution we have today, any corporation, government, or organization, is populated by people – individuals. Even if many of us still linger in old paradigms of domination and control, more and more are resonating to the new frequencies. They might be trapped by jobs, families to nourish, mortgages to be paid. But being even more brave, they might be igniting changes from within, finally leading to the dissolution of inappropriate crusted thinking into the unfolding wave of transformation to maturity of the whole species.

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