Did you know that there is a country with a population 14 times smaller than the U.S. that has nearly three times the number of solar installations in America? Which means that this country is 36 times (!) bigger than the U.S. in the use of solar energy (see the chart – right and the stats below).
Want to know that country that is? Australia. Yes, a country-continent that’s roughly the same size as America.
And why do you suppose that is? Because of the political power the American fossil-based industry wields. And because of the spineless American politicians whom it has in its pockets.
Take the Obama Administration, for example. After nearly six years in office, Obama and his officials have talked big about the importance of renewable energy and about their supposed care for the environment.
But words are cheap. What have they done? They have allowed the federal subsidies to fossil fuel providers not only to remain, but to actually grow to $18.5 billion in 2013 (see Federal Government Still Spending Billions To Subsidize Fossil Fuels, July 9; also see Price of Oil Intl report – you can also click on the image – right – to view the report).
Yes, Obama and his cronies and helping the same cronies in the oil and gas industry that his predecessors (Bush, Clinton) have also been coddling up to. All the while, they have allowed the latter megacorporations to rape and pillage this planet, while gouging consumers at the gas pumps.
The price of gasoline in Maui, for example, is now around $4.55 per gallon. No wonder that here in Hawaii we also have a state government that’s talking big about the use of solar while allowing the utility companies to steal solar power from current users without compensation (see The Empire Strike Back: Hawaii Utility Winning War on Solar Energy, July 2014).
Yet even the government corruption has not stopped the solar industry in the US from making significant inroads last year. The 445,000 installations as of the end of 2013 may seem like a meager figure compared to the bustling Aussie solar industry, but it does represent a big jump over the previous years (see the chart – left).
By contrast to the US, the Australian government seems to be applying a hands-off policy and letting the market pick the winners and losers when it comes to energy use (see People Power in Australia). Lynn Lynn Livsey, a fellow-Steward of the Earth, posted this story at our Facebook website about the use of solar electricity in Australia:
Solar power, now the fourth-biggest source of energy in the state, has driven prices so low that on July 2, the cost of electricity from fossil plants was minus $100 (AUD) per megawatt hour. Essentially, the coal plants had to give away free power or pay for people to use it rather than shut down their facilities, which would have been more expensive to operators.
“THIS SHOULD ALSO BE OCCURRING ALONG THE ENTIRE SOUTHERN PORTION OF THE UNITED STATES!” – Lynn Livsey commented.
Yes, Lynn, it should be. Alas, it is not because the fossil fuel industry in this country has our politicians in its pockets. As you can see from the above facts.
Still, there is hope. And it begins with raising the awareness of the American people with stories such as that which Livsey has posted, and this one.
So spread the word, please. So the people get a chance to turf our corrupt politicians out of office the next time they go to a ballot box.