I just got back from eight days of vacation, so my apologies for the lack of posts. Things will pick up this week. That said, while I was away I had a chance to brainstorm with my brother-in-law about, well, ways to save the world…
Given that wine and beer were involved in this brainstorming, I don’t expect you to take these suggestions seriously, but here’s what we discussed:
* With talk about using carbon nanotube structures to build an elevator to space, we wondered whether a similarly structured pipe could be coupled with the elevator. This pipe could offer a way to pump excess C02 into space where it will eventually disperse and break down. We could then build a ground-based pipeline to which industry and power generators could connect. All C02 produced by these activities could be separated and pumped into this pipeline where it would eventually make its way to space.
* My brother-in-law lamented that there was no way for people to sequester their own carbon emissions. I told him you can plant trees, or engage in aggressive conservation, or put up solar panels, etc… and he said that wasn’t enough — he had to see the carbon and literally bury it in the ground to get a sense and the satisfaction he was actually doing something. He said people need a way, similar to blue/grey recycling programs, to take direct action and assume responsibility for their carbon emissions, and that this requires a way to directly offset emissions. Now, in this discussion we didn’t come up with a solution. Though we imagined a process that could convert C02 into baking soda and turn the powder into bricks that can be buried — sequestered — in the ground. Myself, I’m perfectly happy with planting trees and embracing renewables, but perhaps there is a market for personal carbon-capture machines aimed at alleviating our inner guilt.
* Finally, given that it’s still very expensive to install a decent-sized solar PV system on a home, I wondered why there aren’t more initiatives that allow people to buy shares in a massive solar PV installation. I mean, what’s preventing some intermediary from building a 10 megawatt solar farm and selling real estate from that farm to anybody for a set price per share, which is based on the purchase of a square metre or square foot of solar PV panels? That farm can then sell power back to the Ontario grid for 42 cents per kilowatt hour and “shareholders” get an annual dividend based on the number of shares they own. This approach accomplishes several things. One, it makes investing in solar PVelectricity production more accessible because you don’t have to invest in an entire system. Two, it makes your investment in solar PV electricity production mobile because it’s not tied to your home and you don’t have to worry about getting your investment back if you sell your home. Three, instead of having hundreds of homes trying to connect to the grid individually — each requiring its own inspection, inverters, paperwork — you have one large system connecting to the grid once, making the project much more efficient and cheaper to maintain and service. Finally, you get better economies of scale by building a single project and selling off chunks via shares.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying this structure doesn’t exist already. In fact, we see a similar initiative with the Windshare.ca turbine co-op project in downtown Toronto. But I’m surprised we’re not seeing more of it happening. I’m hoping that some creative entrepreneurs with the necessary funds to start up such a venture will soon make their move in Ontario. I know I’d buy into the concept.
Anyway, food for thought. Vacation is over. Time to get back to reality.