This is a Book Review from "Treehugger" the green Blog of The Solar Century by Jeremy Leggett.
It looks like a fascinating project and worthwhile to look into.
Of course, Shoreline has been the center of much interest in Green Technology with many groups working towards renewable energy solutions. These include, Shoreline Solar Project, Shoreline Community College and the Shoreline Chamber Green Business Program. Shoreline Solar Project's Solar Fest 2010 http://www.shorelinesolar.org/page/8385 will be held at SCC this July. It promises to be exciting as ever with lots of new venues and opportunities to get involved. We even have local Solar energy suppliers here in Shoreline. Northwest Mechanical is a Shoreline small business that has been involved in the new installation at the Shoreline City Hall.
The Solar Century? A Vision for a Solarized World (Review) by Sami Grover, Carrboro, NC, USA Image credit: Jeremy Leggett
"Building houses that use no fossil fuels, directly or indirectly, is surprisingly easy..."
This is not the type of statement you'd expect from a former oil geologist. But Jeremy Leggett is not your average former oil geologist. Having left academia to campaign for action on climate change, he eventually decided to found Solarcentury, which he describes as his "very own microcosm of hope in the business world." The company has since become the UK's fastest growing energy company, it's launched innovative products like the complete solar roof, it's expanded it's solar operations to Spain and is partnering on bringing major solar installations to the Middle East, and it's even mounted solar arrays on hundreds of schools. You certainly couldn't accuse Leggett of suffering from a failure of ambition. Now he's applying that ambition as editor and lead author of a new book that lays out his vision for a world-wide solar surge that could revolutionize the way we think about energy.
The Solar Century is an incredibly inspiring read. So much so, that I had to remind myself to keep a healthy dose of skepticism to some of its claimst—a man who sells solar for a living (and names his book after his own company!) is likely to be a little biased when it comes to the potential of solar energy. Yet Leggett presents a compelling, exciting and inspiring case for solar as a central thrust of a renewable energy future.
Citing studies from the likes of Shell Oil and the German Economics Ministry, Leggett claims that contrary to what naysayers will tell you, it is perfectly possible to power the entire world with renewable energy technologies much sooner, and much cheaper, than most pundits would have you believe. (Previous TreeHugger posts have also covered the question of how much land is needed to power the whole world with solar, not to mention a plan for a world powered by 100% renewables by 2030.)
I'm not qualified to assess the technical feasibility of Leggett's vision, but I do know that we need to aim extraordinarily high if we are going to get anywhere near the kind of carbon reductions needed to avoid catastrophic climate change. And with solar being regularly cited in surveys as everybody's favorite energy source—regardless of political persuasion—what's not to like about a plan to harness the energy falling on our rooftops, parking lots and deserts to create clean renewable energy? (One project in my community exploring how farms can double crop solar energy with food production—just one example of how out-of-the-box thinking can help solar to coexist and even enhance existing land uses.)
The book also takes the opportunity to talk the lay reader through the various solar technologies available, including thin-film, crystalline, solar-thermal, passive solar and solar concentrators, as well as exploring the various potential combinations of centralized versus decentralized supply, grid-tied versus off-grid, and how smart grid technologies may help manage supply and even out demand. The result is a highly accessible guide to the pros and cons of each approach, and an uplifting pep talk on just how much can be achieved if we can only find the political will to act.
Interestingly, for this non-techy reader at least, Leggett and his co-authors' also tackle the potential for improvements in solar technology and explain that media focus on improving solar cell efficiency is perhaps less than half the story—companies are also working on squeezing more value out of their products at every level of the supply chain. In fact, with silicon ingots making up 95% of the costs of solar wafer manufacture, finding ways to use silicon that has not been purified to solar-grade may be at least as important as the actual efficiency of each cell.
There's plenty of big-picture thinking in The Solar Century to keep the visionaries happy too. In fact, the last third of the book is dedicated to defining and assessing a number of visions that could help lead us to a truly "solar century". Ranging from the idea of carbon armies rebuilding economies after the financial crisis, through most buildings being transformed into power plants, to solar reaching grid parity with fossil fuels, Leggett lays out where we need to go, how we need to get there, and what has already been achieved on the road to these goals.
Crucially, while Leggett clearly believes that solar needs to be a central (perhaps the central) technology for a renewables revolution, he also recognizes that efficiency, wind, geothermal and other technologies will play a vital role in kicking the fossil fuel habit.
I started out reading The Solar Century expecting a sales pitch for Leggett's company. In some ways, that's exactly what I got. But when a company stands for nothing less than a startlingly ambitious vision to rethink the way we power our entire world, reading its sales pitch becomes a sheer delight. Having picked up the book early yesterday evening, I found myself still pouring over the details at midnight. Somehow my still relatively new solar panels on the roof are beginning to feel like the first step to something much bigger.
See also my brief interview with Jeremy Leggett back in 2006.
More on Solarcentury The Complete Solar Roof from Solarcentury The TH Interview: Jeremy Leggett of Solarcentury Solarcentury's Thermal and Electric Tiles Win Green Energy Award Solar4Schools: Solarcentury Launches Initiative for Solar Education Solarcentury Expands to Spain
• Douglass Squirrel sighted in Briarcrest by Chris Southwick Feb 2012
• Cottontail Rabbit sighted in Briarcrest Neighborhood Nov 1st. Did not look like a domestic "bunny!"
• Coyote spotted in Paramount Park Meadow, just sittin'. 3/11
• Varied Thrush sighted in Paramount Park Neighborhood 2 & 3/11
• Townsends Warbler photographed in Highland Terrace Neighborhood 1/11
• Blackheaded Grossbeak sighted near Paramount Park last Fall
• Great Blue Heron sighted at Hidden Lake in Boeing Creek basin
• Barred Owl sighted in Thornton Creek Park #1 near Jackson Park, 8/10
• White crowned sparrow identified in Highland Terrace/Aurora Square neighborhood
• Blackheaded Grossbeak sighting in Hillwood neighborhood
• Two Raptors sighted in Shoreline. Osprey and Merlin have been documented at Ronald Bog and Echo Lake respectively this summer (2010)
• Pacific Chorus Frog heard in Shoreline's Hillwood Neighborhood
• Three types of warblers identified in Briarcrest neighborhood in May and June
• Red Breasted Sapsucker Banded in Briarcrest Neighborhood of Shoreline
• 4/16 - Mating pair of Pileated Woodpecker seen yesterday in Paramount Park. They were utilizing some "snags" (dead trees) which were placed in the wetland restoration area with a KC Wildlife Habitat Grant in 2002. The Pileated Woodpecker is considered a "Priority Species" by WDFW. The pairs mate for life and make their nests in cavities they excavate in dead trees with their sharp beaks. They eat insects and grubs they find in the dead wood.
• Great Blue Heron seen today at Thornton Creek Par #6 eating two fish in five minutes. It's interesting to note that it took many years to get the City of Seattle to realize that there are fish living in Thornton Creek, only 2-3 blocks from Northgate. In the design of the Thornton Creek Water Quality Channel at Northgate, fish passage was a non-negotiable issue. The Great Blue Heron is considered a Priority Species by WA State.
• River Otter Spotted at Kruckeberg Botanic Garden! The Garden does not have a river running through it, so we were startled to see what appeared to be a river otter (Lutra canadensis) passing through recently. River otters live in rivers, streams, and coastlines. With water repellant fur and webbed feet, these playful members of the weasel family are designed for swimming and catching fish, their main food. However, they often wander far from water in search of a mate or new living area, surprising the unsuspecting staff of botanic gardens. The Kruckeberg Garden is near the headwaters of Storm Creek.
• Wood Ducks seem to be happily proliferating at Thornton Creek Park Six near Northgate. With the help of stewards, beavers and other species, habitat is improving at this little "wild" urban paradise. Despite a jungle of invasives there is a wetland habitat (improved by beavers) that suits the Wood Ducks. Today, 13 were sighted in the branches of a fallen cottonwood. 13 Wood Ducks Today!
• Beaver families have been moving in and building habitat around our urban watersheds, especially into Thornton Creek. Here is a photo a "creative engineer" naturally utilizing the creek corridor at Thornton Creek Park #6, which is a wetland waiting for better "engineering".
• At least 40 bird species have been sighted at Paramount Park over the last 20 years and more. The Barred Owl is one visitor who is watching over us.
• 12 birds at Greenlake today including Western Grebe, Bufflehead, Great Blue Heron and Hooded and Red-breasted Merganser
Janet proudly served on Shoreline City Council, from 2005-2009 and is an outspoken, current environmental and preservation activist residing in Shoreline, WA. Over the past 20 years, she and many other partners have succeeded in many remarkable accomplishments for the environment and community. On the City Council, she helped spearhead many environmental achievements for Shoreline, giving Shoreline a "green city" profile. She is a founding member of Paramount Park Neighborhood Group, Thornton Creek Legal Defense Fund (which advocated for and succeeded in "daylighting" Thornton Creek at Northgate), South Woods Preservation Group, Lake Ballinger Forum, Sno-King Economic Gardening group and other efforts. She serves on the Advisory Board of Friends of Fircrest, and is a member of Shoreline Chamber of Commerce and Shoreline Solar Project.
Janet holds an Art degree from Moore College of Art, Phila, and runs an arts business for 30 yrs. She also is sales rep for Appel Farms dairy at Seattle Farmers Markets.
Janet and her wonderful, patient husband, Alan Worthington of 32 yrs have two grown sons, Travis and Spencer.