Man’s impact on the planet is no longer in question. There is now no “reasonable doubt” that our carbon-emissions have altered climate in a way that demands an immediate change in behavior: we have all noticed the breakdown in seasonal patterns, and the general increase in temperatures - these belie a chain-reaction that is altering the near-future of life on Earth before our very eyes, and one which we, over just the last century, have caused.
It is also clear that our appetite for energy has been the greatest culprit. And, the rapid growth of the developing world - the “third world nations”- raises the question of how they can achieve their potential without making matters even worse.
A global change in our attitude towards energy - a paradigm shift both in terms of where energy comes from, and how we expend it – is vital and urgent. Central to the new paradigm is the adoption of energy sources that are sustainable in the long term – sources that are both renewable and non-carbon-emitting. The alchemists of old thought of four elements - Earth, Air, Fire and Water – and although modern physics does not consider any of them elements, our underlying dependence on them is striking:
The “Earth” provides the traditional energy resources – hydrocarbons, coal and wood – that have been the primary source of “greenhouse gas” emissions. However, the future will see these resources harnessed more cleanly and increasingly cost-efficiently. Meanwhile however, the Earth also provides an entirely clean source of energy in the form of its sheer internal heat, emanating from its core. In the last decade of the 20th century, geothermal generating capacity increased by just over 1GW (37%) while in the first five years of the new century it has increased by the same amount and now stands at 9GW. This is probably enough to power more than 4 million western households! In addition, many of the crops we grow can be harvested and used to generate heat and power in a sustainable way. Ethanol production, the most common biofuel, grew by over 10% in 2005 to pass 16 million tonnes of oil equivalent!
For “Air” read wind - windmills have been used for centuries and the modern versions are efficient and economic. The value of this is amply demonstrated by its growth – from less than 5GW in 1995 to 18GW in 2000 and over 59GW in 2005 – a growth rate of 16% over the last five years. A typical northern California home would need a 4kW installation to provide its annual electricity needs, so the 2005 capacity was enough for almost 15 million households!
For “Fire” read Sun. The Sun gives enough direct energy to provide for all our needs – our only challenge is to capture it well enough, and our knowledge and technologies are moving forward all the time. It provides enormous potential through photovoltaic and solar thermal technologies – about 100 watts of insolation per square foot!. It took until 2001 for the cumulative installed PV capacity to reach 1GW. By 2005 it exceeded 4GW – an average growth rate of over 50% in the last 4 years!
“Water”, like wind, has been used for centuries as a power source. The watermills of old may have turned millstones whilst modern ones turn turbines; other water-harnessing technologies use tides and waves to generate power. And we are not talking about a small contribution either! World consumption of hydropower in 2005 topped 337GW, up 4.2% from 2004!
Renewable energy (RE) has become a viable option and is the ultimate answer to man’s impact on climate. We see the accelerating growth of RE, and the growing recognition of its importance in many parts of the world. Many of these technologies will provide part of the answer to our long-term sustainable energy needs and all of them will need people to fuel their industries’ growth.
Greenjobs exists to address the need for great people to fuel the growth of RE. We believe that the growth rate is so high in industries such as solar and wind that there is a real threat that growth could be stifled by lack of talent and we intend to ensure that this does not happen.
Greenjobs exists to make it easy for talented individuals and renewable energy companies to find one another and to provide RE employers with the people and information they need to remain competitive.