Solarcentury is a solar energy company that builds and installs solar panels for both large and small scale projects, and is focused on fighting climate change by reducing dependence on fossil fuels. Susannah Wood, Solarcentury’s Chief Marketing Officer, gave a talk where she addressed global energy issues and the benefits of solar energy.

– I do not really have a particular point I’d like to bring across here in this post, so instead am jotting down interesting facts and undeveloped thought trails I have had (which most posts seem to end up being anyway). –

One of Solarcentury’s larger projects was that of Blackfriars Bridge, London, in 2014, now also known as the “World’s largest solar powered bridge” – despite there being only one other “solar bridge” in the world, namely in Brisbane, Australia. 50% of Blackfriars Station’s energy needs are met with the 4,400 photovoltaic panels (around 6000 m^2) covering the length of the bridge.

Susannah Wood spoke of the future of renewable energy, quoting figures that the fossil fuel company Shell released, on the predicted percentage of energy demands met by various fuel sources in 2100:

  • 37.7% solar
  • 10.1% oil
  • 9.5% biofuel
  • 8.4% wind
  • 7.5% natural gas
  • 6.3% nuclear
  • 3.9% coal
    And then others like Geothermal, Tidal, and Biomass waste followed.

I find it quite amusing when companies like Shell dish out their grand visions for the future; inspiring videos, and ideas about how the world should look, despite currently not taking any noticeable action towards forging this dreamed-of future. Shell recently spent $7 billion on a failed hunt for oil off Alaskan shores, while 600 million people on the African continent live off the grid. Other areas of energy loss are in transmission, where the energy equivalent for 1.5 million homes is lost as energy is dissipated in electricity transmission. We could be working on developing efficiency and building new systems more suited for the environments that are lacking electrical resources.

For forging the future, it is often agreed that younger generations needs to be more involved, but within the coal industry the average workers’ age is 58. Solarcentury on the other hand, has an average employee age of around 34. Personally, I sometimes think that companies are too eager to brand themselves as fresh, innovative, or youthful, and think the (only) way to do this is to have younger intakes. But through this the valuable experience and knowledge from older generations is lost. There should be a greater emphasis placed on the value of having a very diverse range of workers, so that different generations may collaborate and share perspectives for better products and services to suit whole populations.

The life cycle of Solarcentury’s solar panels is 30 to 40 years, but their warranty is for 25, and it takes approximately 2 years for the solar panels in the UK to pay back from the non-renewable carbon used to build it.