Reasons for optimism: ‘Grid Parity’ for renewable energy sources

Progress at decarbonisation will speed up. New or improved technologies now offer us cost-competitive routes to low carbon electricity, heat and transport fuel. Solar PV in sunny countries, onshore wind on coasts, biofuels from bacteria, heat from hot rocks and electricity from tidal lagoons are all capable of reducing our dependence on fossil fuels without increasing consumer bills. The critical remaining problem – storing excess energy – will be solved by turning power into methane or hydrogen, thus linking the electricity and gas grids.

The process of reducing fossil fuel use will continue to be difficult – and probably cannot be accomplished without nationalisation of energy distribution. But it can be done, and done quickly, by states that commit themselves to the process of abolishing the existing oligopolistic energy suppliers and replacing them with decentralised power generators offered guaranteed prices. More effort will need to be put into demand management, efficiency improvements and – utterly crucially – reduction in the cost of capital. The rewards for countries that do this early, gaining experience and skills, are likely to be substantial.

This talk will principally cover three topics.

  1. what grounds are there for optimism about the progress of technologies
    for cheap decarbonisation?
  2. how do we solve the storage problem?
  3. we build an energy system that is acceptable to electorates in
    democratic countries?


Chris Goodall is a writer, investor and consultant in low carbon technologies. His four books on energy and climate have won awards and been widely translated. ‘Ten Technologies to Fix Energy and Climate’ was one of the FT’s books of the year. He writes for publication such as the Guardian and the Ecologist and publishes a widely quoted blog at Carbon Commentary.

He helped set up the UK’s first employee-owned solar cooperative, is a seed investor in a new wind turbine company and several other new ventures. He has consulted recently to companies entering the community energy, electric
vehicle charging and tyre recycling businesses. Chris Goodall is a frequent broadcaster and speaker and recently converted a house to Passiv standards.

He has degrees from Cambridge, the University of Michigan and Harvard Business School, where he was a teaching fellow in economics.

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