Solar Will Give Us the Emergency Energy Security That Power Companies Alone Can’t
We should not be talking about solar vs. traditional power grids, as if the choice is one or the other. Solar is advancing as parts of hybrid energy systems that can be relied on in a world of stronger storms and bigger fires.
Centrally distributed power is vulnerable to disasters of all kinds. How many in Puerto Rico would give anything today for a trickle of solar power hooked up to a small household battery? Right now? Today? To charge a phone, or light a house at night as they wait for more traditional power distribution to resume?
The move to solar will be a migration driven by the inability of traditional power companies to consistently serve populations at a competitive price. It will be driven by our increasing desire to not live at the mercy of market forces and political whim. And in some cases, it will be driven by industry and political leaders unwillingness to provide any power at all. Places like sub Saharan Africa will likely ever only be solar.
In Africa, the adoption of solar is already producing innovative business models. The genie is out of the bottle. And big power companies only have themselves to blame.
Given how little energy elites care about getting traditional power grids to some parts of the world, they are inviting radical innovation to supersede them. Leave massive regions like sub Saharan Africa or islands like Puerto Rico without a traditional grid and it will quickly result in decentralized, flexible renewable power generation and consumption models that Western nations will ultimately take note of and adopt, because they simply work better.
This is already happening.
Traditional power companies either can’t or won’t see the tsunami of disruptive technological innovation coming their way. Tipping points are always invisible to the biggest players, and often they drive the very change that will make them obsolete.