Written by: Ralph “Bizzy” Williams, Founder & Chairman, Williams Industries Inc.
Planet Earth was designed with all the ingredients required to sustain the life of tens of thousands of living species plants corals etc. For billions of years trees powered by the sun captured and stored carbon while releasing life-sustaining oxygen. Everything was in perfect balance to very close tolerances. Humans came along and found ways to use the sun’s energy that created wind to power ships around the world and windmills to produce the work needed to pump water for irrigation and the processing of food crops etc.
Humans lived by insulating themselves and they used natural ventilation to cool their homes and buildings. But humans also possess great inquisitiveness and ingenuity and they wanted to live easier and more comfortably, so they invented steam engines, electricity, electricity generators, electric motors, internal combustion engines, jet engines, air-conditioning, etc., that all burn carbon stored by the trees over millions of ears. This process absorbs oxygen out of the atmosphere and releases CO2 into the atmosphere.
Meanwhile, using ice-core samples, humans also invented ways to measure the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere and the earth’s temperature through the ages. The results have shown very clearly that the planet’s temperature rise is directly linked to the concentration of CO2 and other greenhouse gasses put into the atmosphere by human activity.
The results have shown very clearly that the planet’s temperature rise is directly linked to the concentration of CO2 and other greenhouse gasses put into the atmosphere by human activity.
This rise in temperature causes the weather patterns on Earth to become unstable and threaten the lives of humans and multiple other species that inhabit the Earth. Humans have caused this problem so humans need to solve the problem, or the earth will in a few hundred years, kill the pests that are hurting it and carry on orbiting the sun happily without humans for millions of years while repairing the damage to its stability caused by humans and welcoming other species.
We, humans, need to take drastic steps NOW to reduce the RATE of increase in CO2 and other greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere and find ways to remove some of the existing CO2 and greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere if we want to save our species from extinction.
My point is that the effort needed to stop Earth’s temperature rising is not to save Earth. It is to save us humans from being exterminated by Earth, so we had better understand who is going to be destroyed if we continue to pollute.
The good news is that solutions can be implemented, but we humans will have to put aside greed and ego and work together in unity worldwide to save ourselves.
The good news is that solutions can be implemented, but we humans will have to put aside greed and ego and work together in unity worldwide to save ourselves. The most obvious solution is to stop releasing the carbon that trees stored over millions of years and go back to harnessing the sun’s energy, which also drives the wind. I will illustrate what I think is possible all over the sunbelt of Earth by using Barbados as an example.
The sun radiates as much energy to Earth in one hour as all the energy used by human activity for one year.
In the sunbelt of earth where Barbados and the other Caribbean islands are, Barbados is currently producing about 0.9 kWh per sqm per day or about 328.5 KWh/sqm per year of electricity using current off the self-PV panels.
Barbados’ surface area is 166 sq miles or 430,158,213 sqm so the island’s surface area can produce 51.58 Gigawatt hours per annum. Currently, we use a little less than one GWh per annum.
So only 1.94% of the island’s surface is covered with off-the-shelf PV panels that can produce all the electricity we currently use. Let us allow 15% losses in storage and allow for setbacks and access roads, and we will still be using less than 3% of our land area. I estimate that at least 15% of Barbados’s land area is now unutilized.
But it gets better. If we cover the existing buildings as we have done at Williams Industries and we cover existing homes and design new homes with roof slopes facing South, we could reduce the land area required to 1.5%, even allowing for the additional electricity needed to charge electric ground transport. So, this is where we are.
1: Technology and engineering skills exist in our private sector.
2: Our banks and Green Energy bonds are on board with finance. Still, the cost of storage makes the generation of instantly available electricity over 24-hour periods more expensive than electricity can be generated by conventional fossil fuel in Barbados and most developing small island states. So our efforts to go green are not for financial benefit, but it is to play our part to save humanity from extinction.
3: We have an excellent enlightened utility that initiated the renewable energy rider over 12 years ago. Still, it is under severe criticism from the public for asking for a rate structure that allows it to buy RE at the price that is required to make investments in RE generation plus storage bankable.
4: We have an enlightened government that sees the writing on the wall for humanity if we humans continue to pollute. Still, in a democracy, governments have to be reelected to govern. The electorate is not prepared to pay the price required to make RE investments bankable because, in their view the rich developed countries are the polluters who have created the problem so why should we alone in the SIDS be the ones who pay for the solution”.
5: In addition, most of the equipment required for the generation and storage of RE is imported from wealthy developed countries so since most of the cost of RE finds its way back to the developed countries, I think a reasonable and fair solution would be for the developed countries to assist us in reducing atmospheric pollution by buying our carbon credits.
6: Every kWh of RE generated in SIDS is currently measured and saves about 0.75 kg of carbon from going into the atmosphere. The SIDS must borrow to finance the installation of storage. I am proposing that the developed world establish a fund administered by the World Bank or IMF or some other international fund that the world’s polluters finance. There should be a worldwide carbon tax to finance this fund. This fund would credit the governments of SIDS with, say, 10 cents US per kWh for every kWh of intermittent RE that is generated to help pay for storage.
7: This system would be audited and would reward SIDS for results achieved, not promises made.
8: If Barbados produces all its electricity from RE, this system would earn Barbados about US$100,000,000 per annum, and our savings in imported oil would be about US$170,000,000 per annum. Total earnings and savings US$270,000,000. This would allow Barbados to borrow and repay up to US$4,300,000,000 to finance the move to renewable energy.
So why are we falling behind in our government’s stated objective to be carbon neutral by 2030.
Basically, we have performed well. Some weekends Barbados produces almost 50% of its electricity from RE. But we have gone as far as we can go without storage. I believe each island needs a robust well managed utility to provide, install, and manage the electricity grid and the storage that is required in whatever form is most cost-effective. The citizens of the islands should be allowed to invest in and install distributed solar on rooftops and their lands and sell the electricity they generate to the utility at bankable rates that allow the citizens a fair profit on their investments, just like the utility is allowed a fair profit on its investment.
The money that the islands save from not importing oil and the money they receive by selling their carbon credits should be used to assist the utility to install storage and manage the electricity grid. I believe strongly that the sun that shines on and the wind that blows over the SIDS should only be harvested by the citizens of the islands and their JV partners with the citizens having control over where the profits are invested. All regulations should be drafted to ensure fairness to both parties but with a laser-like focus on the development of the islands and the welfare of citizens who are prepared to work for what they want.
I believe strongly that the sun that shines on and the wind that blows over the SIDS should only be harvested by the citizens of the islands and their JV partners with the citizens having control over where the profits are invested.
I also believe strongly that governments should regulate (but not strangle initiatives with regulations) and enforce the regulations, but governments should NEVER get involved in owning and managing businesses for very basic reasons. When a government-owned and managed business loses money, there are no financial consequences for the owners and managers whereas when private companies lose money, the investors lose their assets and in some cases their homes. So, there is a powerful incentive to be efficient in the private sector. This why I advocate for private citizens to be the investors and owners of the distributed PV, Wind, and other renewable energy assets and for government to set fair rates for the sale of electricity so that efficiently built and managed assets can earn a fair return on their investments.