The Art of the Global Climate Deal: Review- An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power


Originally Posted on Salay Consulting & Social Media Services

Synopsis: Al Gore returns with an update to  2006’s documentary, An Inconvenient Truth (AIT). An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power provides solid climate science, and a unique backstage pass of how global climate change political deals are done.

**** out of 5 stars

Its been eleven years since Al Gore’s ground breaking documentary on climate change, An Inconvenient Truth. It was released to critical acclaim and won Best Documentary at the 2006 Academy Awards and was a box office success, as Al Gore brought the issue of global warming to the public forefront.

Fast Forward to 2017, and we get An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power (AIS:TTP) Call it AIT 2.0. The movie provides a good mix of climate science, economics, and global politics, all wrapped in one basket. The documentary gives a backstage pass of high stakes climate policy poker at the maximum level, which provides extra documentary value for the viewer.

This is what sells AIS:TTP as a compelling well thought out documentary. AIS:TTP has a balanced mix of showing the science of climate change, and its effects and tying it into the recent clean technology trends.

The opening section has Gore taking a jaw dropping trip to Greenland to see the effects of climate change there, melting area ice glaciers. In one scene, you can see the glaciers, crumble faster than an imploded house, which you could have taken out of a 1980’s science fiction movie. However, this is happening now and not in some science fiction flick.

If that does not make you think something is wrong, the Gore’s slides showing the effects of climate change from extreme weather events will get you pondering why we are seeing more of these violent weather phenomena (ranging from dramatic floods in Louisiana to wildfires in Alberta). Gore gives you a “walk through the book of Revelations” as he genuinely puts it into perspective for the public to understand how we see climate change risks in 2017.

While AIS:TTP does show the severe risks society is facing with climate change, it also showcases the rapid rise of cleantech since the original film. I was pleased how there was a good discussion of how the economics of wind energy, electric vehicles, and especially solar power worked out since AIT. Gore hits the point home of how much the price of renewables has fallen, especially solar today (which has dropped from $77.00/watt forty years ago to around $0.55/watt)

This also plays a critical aspect behind the second point of why this documentary works: AIS:TTP gives you a front-row access to the challenges, and deals behind the Paris climate agreement and how renewable energy policy plays a significant role in this deal. I appreciated how the films show you, as a viewer, of not only how the dynamics of global politics play out in the 21st century, but also how technology is attempting to bridge the gap for infrastructure for developing countries, including India. Consider India ranked fourth in global carbon emissions in the world, and is a rapidly growing player in the global economy. This leads to the film dynamic of India arguing they need to advance their economy to improve their citizen’s lives. Even if it means using fossil fuels, as Gore works feverishly in the lead up and during the COP21 in Paris to find a way to get India on side in signing onto the Paris agreement. Directors Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk do an excellent job of not letting any stone unturned in the behind the scenes political dealings, and the aftermath of the Paris climate agreement. It gives viewers in understanding the scope and scale of how political deals not only work, but the importance in an era of Trump and anti global sentiment, of why building global political capital is critical, especially in the 21st Century.

While AIS:TTP is very strong, the only down point of this film was at times it felt like an update, rather than something new. AIS:TTP does a good job on updating info about the science, risks related to climate change, and the economic benefits of falling cleantech prices. That is what any good updates should do, is provide the public with the most up to date information for them to make educated decisions on the main issues which will affect their livelihoods.

That is what you I guess you should expect from sequels to documentaries: Good solid updated information, but nothing earth shattering. This is why its hard for sequels to documentaries to be wildly successful. That lies part of the challenge why AIS:TTP has not done so well, compared to the original, where AIT made $50 USD million. This film will not even come close to making what the original did.

Another reason why AIS:TTP has been lackluster at the box office has been Paramount Pictures having it in limited release for opening weekend, then only adding a few theatres the week after. In Winnipeg, it did not open up on August 4th, but rather the next week August 11th. There has been disappointment amongst environmentalists on the lackadaisical promotional strategy by Paramount Pictures.

Third, and the primary reason why AIS:TTP has not done as well is that there are much more options in distributing and seeing films. Although in 2006, when AIT came out the Internet was around, there were not as many streaming options as there is in 2017. Today, in an age of Netflix, there are so many ways to distribute a film, including digital download, Blu-Ray, DVD, and streaming services. Factor in going to see a movie cost around $10.00 and you wonder if it’s not just  AIS:TTP, but documentaries in general, which could be more suited for these different distribution platforms, and achieve a high reach of engaged viewers. Look for example the critically acclaimed documentary, Sons of Ben, which focuses on the rise the soccer supporters group, which played a critical role in landing the Philadelphia Union in Major League Soccer. It gained critical acclaim while reaching a wide audience amongst both the soccer community and public.

Despite these challenges, AIS:TTP is a definite must-see in a year of weak movies (Besides Dunkirk). A likely Best Documentary contender at Academy Awards time. Go see This film. Not only to be inspired by the rise of the sustainability revolution through the sharp price drops in renewable energy, not only for the updates on the increased risks of climate change towards society, but go see it for the most important part: Go to it for The Art of The Global Climate Deal. This will be the invaluable lesson you will get, and ensure we strive to limit the worst impacts of climate change, while we help developing nations leap-frog past their dirty fossil fuel infrastructure.

 

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Nevada Gov. Sandoval Sells Out on Solar Energy

Nevada Gov. Sandoval Sells Out on Solar Energy


Incase you have missed it, major US solar installer SolarCity is shedding many solar jobs in Nevada.

According to the Sentinel Source, 550 jobs are being scrapped in the state, as regulators have voted for new solar rooftop utility fees.

 

Obviously, SolarCity opposes such action, as they would see this as a major hindrance in solar’s growth within Nevada, making it not as attractive, despite having some of the best solar radiation within the US.

You think this smells like rotten cheese? You bet. Consider first, NV Nevada, is one of the state’s biggest utilities, and is owned by Warren Buffet’s investment group Berkshire Hathaway. According to the Sentinel Sourceis looking to regain lost revenue from decentralized solar, like what SolarCity offers. Recently, NV Nevada won, and is now charging an extra $17.90/month as of this January to its solar customers.

Second, Nevada appointed Paul Thomsen, as Chairman of their Public Utilities commission last fall. Thomsen, was past director of business and policy development of Ormat Technologies, in Reno Nevada, with facilities in Israel. While Ormat Technologies does invest in solar, its big stake is within geothermal. Smell something wrong here? Perhaps a case of Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval falling to entrenched interests?

Don’t get me wrong, I think geothermal is great, but it’s not just as cost of effective as solar in a region where sunshine is plentiful. Consider solar costs are becoming much more competitive with coal, oil, and gas. Geothermal costs, on the other hand, drilling to have geothermal energy in place can be pricey.

At the end of the day, decentralized solar energy makes sense. A disruptive opportunity, thanks to SolarCity waits in the balance in Nevada. Places like where I live in Manitoba, would love to have the choice of which SolarCity and solar energy provides in many US states. When the hearings begin tomorrow on Nevada’s solar future, protesters in front of the building should take this chant and yell it out loud and clear tomorrow as Gov. Sandoval has done this: You’ve Sold Out!

SolarCity Tops 6GWh, Doubled Electricity Generation Since April 2014


SolarCity keeps on rolling and breaks its own milestones at rapid rates.

According to a post on LinkedInthe top US solar panel installer on June 2nd reached 6GWh of solar electricity in a single day, doubling its generation rate in one day of 3GWh in April, 2014. SolarCity said on their LinkedIn page they “Can not wait to see what summer brings,” referring to reaching 7GWh soon.

It was only in late March they reached 5GWh, easily smashing 4GWh, two weeks prior.

I had predicted in the same CleanTechnica post 6GWh in solar electricity generation in a day was feasible by early summer for SolarCity, which they easily accomplished as noted by the below graph.

SolarCIty 6GWh Graph

Image: SolarCIty 6GWh via SolarCIty LinkedIn page

Even more astonishing is how fast this was achieved in five years to reach 6 GWh of solar electricity production. Consider, by 2013, only 1 GWh was produced in a day. Within two years it’s now six times that!.

Declining solar costs, driving climate change concerns will factor into SolarCity’s ferocious appetite to push clean electricity further.

All that solar power will come in handy as US energy demand could increase up to 95 gigawatts within the next 5-25 years, in order to meet cooling needs from increased heat waves.

With “The dog days of summer” on its way, and peak consumption period from the hot weather, I would not be surprised if SolarCity reaches 7GWh in a day by early July.

Until then, I am excited by the possibilities Lyndon Rive, SolarCity’s CEO & Co. have in store.

Infograph: Union of Concerned Scientists: US Solar Growth


Ok, I figure I would share this info graph with everyone from US-based Union of Concerned Scientists regarding the jaw-dropping growth of US rooftop solar energy since the start of 21st Century.

Consider this:

In 2005, the average rooftop solar system cost $40,000. However by 2013, a roof based solar power plant would cost $20,000. If customers decide to lease a solar system, installations costs are $0.00. Examples of companies providing leasing options for those wanting to go solar include SolarCity and Vivant Solar.

Add by 2017, more than 50% of US states will have solar electricity prices cheaper than local utilities. Currently, many states, including California, Texas, Arizona have prices as affordable as the grid.

What’s more impressive is how many households have gone solar. In 2006, 30,000 households had added a solar system to their home. By 2013, those numbers reached 400,000. By 2020, depending estimates, range from 900,000 to 3.8 million homes going solar.

So what has drove solar’s ascension? Here are three critical reasons.

1. Climate change concerns and mitigating risk.

2. Declining solar costs (and even more proof here).

3. US Government tax credit policy.

Without all three, I don’t think you would see the disruption you are seeing in the US utility sector.

So what does Canada have to do to duplicate the United States growth?

Feel free to email me at adamjwpg@mymts.net your thoughts. You may also contact me on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

Three Things Environmentalists Should Jump For Joy On Earth Day


 

Tomorrow is Earth Day. We will gather to celebrate the Mother Earth in all her glory.

We will also hear a lot of doom and gloom about the planet we live on. Sure, there is a lot of gloomy stories to worry about. Carbon emissions last year went above 400 parts per million (ppm) and went to 402 ppm recently. We have seen record storms and droughts in recent times that should raise concern among climate policy makers.

Despite some of the end of the world mentality by many environmentalists, here are three things to get really excited about as you celebrate Earth Day:

1. Cost of Solar Falls Like A Ton of Bricks:

800px-Electrical_and_Mechanical_Services_Department_Headquarters_Photovoltaics

Image Credit: China Solar Panels via WikiCommons

It was not long ago, the cost of solar power was really expensive. Solar costs in 1950 were $300 per watt and $27.00/watt in 1980. In 2013, solar plummeted to $0.74/watt. That is an astonishing figure. Solar is price competitive to coal in some places. What is occurring with solar energy, and other renewables occurred with the late 1990’s information technology boom, which created the framework for Web. 2.0. Governments, and utilities will have to kick out their old 20th century style energy policies out the door, thanks to the open sourced energy model solar offers.

2. SolarCity and Tesla Motors Are Rolling:

800px-Tesla_Model_S_(108)

Image Credit: Tesla Motors Model S via WikiCommons

Tesla Motors and SolarCity in the past few years have really taken off in the Nasdaq stock exchange and are hot talking points.

At the end of Monday, Tesla Motors stock was worth $204.38 USD a share, an increase of more than $100.00 a year ago. Meanwhile, SolarCity’s share price hit $57.13. While not as high as earlier this year, it’s almost five times more than the initial IPO offering of $11.79/share on its first day of trading in December, 2012.

In March, the Globe & Mail put SolarCity’s bright future into context:

To put this in perspective, two-thirds of all solar energy systems in the U.S. were installed in the last two-and-a-half years. I don’t think it’s just tree huggers who are installing these systems, either. These are financial decisions. And for people who don’t have $20,000 or more to invest up front in a solar energy system on their roof, solar leasing is a popular solution.

Within the sector, Solar City is a clear leader by market share in the U.S. It specializes in putting solar energy systems on homeowners’ roofs. Solar City, and other companies like them, pay for the entire installation and recoup their money by signing the customer to a long-term energy-purchase agreement. Everybody wins because Solar City generates a healthy profit over the life of the solar-power system, while the customer pays less for power compared to their feed from the traditional grid. Customers can still use grid power, but most of their electricity comes from their roof, and if the grid goes down, they are still generating their own power.

Take SolarCity’s monster share of the US solar market, along with Tesla’s ambitious plan on building a “gigafactory” for its electric cars, and you see how the long-term motor vehicle and energy market trends may shape out this century.

3. Spectator Sports Are Becoming More Sustainable:

800px-Spark-Renault_SRT_01_E_(Formula_E)

Image Credit: Spark Renault Formula E Car via WikiCommons

One of the biggest complaints about spectator sports (Auto Racing, NFL) is the big footprint it leaves. Major sports leagues are now taking up the sustainability charge.

Averaging about a 4 million carbon footprint annually, NASCAR is often on the “Hit List” of many environmentalists. Ironically, they have also brought in some green changes, including an E15 ethanol blend, and working with ACORE on energy efficiency initiatives.

Meanwhile, Formula E, the first ever electric vehicle racing circuit will kick off this September. Announced in 2012, its hoped the new racing venture will reduce carbon emissions, create jobs and advance the electric vehicle industry.

In the NFL, many teams have embraced renewable energy strategies to save costs and the environment. These include the New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks, and Washington Redskins.

Society Better Equipped to Fight Climate Change Now

As you sit back on Earth Day, sure be mad about a lot of things. But at the same time lets start being more positive on the changes that are taking place. Ask someone thirty to forty years ago, if wind, solar energy, or electric vehicles would become apart of mainstream society? You would be laughed right out of the building.

Sure nothing is perfect. However, but as you are seeing now with declining solar costs, cleantech stocks becoming hot talking points on Wall Street, and less carbon footprint from spectator sports show society is moving in the right direction. If you ask me, We are more equipped now to take on climate change, then we were even twenty five years ago. That my friends is progress.

Happy Earth Day.

 

 

 

 

From CleanTechnica: SolarCity Helps Power Net-Zero Homes At International Builders Show



SolarCity Helps Power Net-Zero Homes At International Builders Show (via Clean Technica)

SolarCity, one of the top solar providers, is now attempting to make a splash in the energy-efficient homes market. The company is showcasing the “net zero” home concept at the International Builders Show in Las Vegas, Nevada this week, hosted by the National Association of Home Builders. Designed…

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