Sorry for the gap between blogs but in August I took a holiday downunder, to Australia, from whence I came.
It was great to have a break and also look at the solar market from the perspective of another economy. It made me all the more excited to come back to California, a nation-state twice the size of Australia, that is really becoming a world leader in solar solutions, whereas Australia is a leader in carbon pollution.

That’s right folks – you heard it here first (perhaps):

While America as a country has a much greater responsibility for carbon dioxide pollution over the last couple of centuries, due to its industry and big population, Australia is worse per capita. On the bright side, California in particular is leading the charge on stopping bad stuff, like coal power, and starting good stuff, like solar electricity.

The main reason for this disparity is Australia’s dependence on coal, which produces the lion’s share of the country’s electricity. It also is phenomenally inefficient with worse standards on weatherisation of buildings, lighting, heating, and so on, whereas California’s per person consumption of electricity, at least, has kept remarkably flat despite a growing economy and population for the last 40 years.

The other problem Australia poses is that it sells more coal to the world than any other nation. The export of coal is a huge money spinner for Australia. On the other side of the Pacific pond, California has weaned itself off coal and will no longer even import coal-generated electricity from next decade.

California is leading the nation in building a solar industry and Sungevity is proud to be involved in this effort. Of course, we’d love to be part of something in Australia, too, and there are positive signs that I’ll have an excuse to go back there someday. Last month, the Minister for the Environment and former Midnight Oil frontman, Peter Garrett, rejected a major coal export expansion port proposal. Several states are initiating policies to support the uptake of solar and there’s lots of good work by social movements demanding clean energy now.

I  look forward to the next time I return to Australia to see my family and friends, but the environmental leadership that drew us here – the California Solar Initiative – is still an inspiration. Shine on, California!

Posted by Danny Kennedy

Danny Kennedy co-founded Sungevity and now serves as strategic advisor. He is an internationally recognized opinion leader on climate and energy issues. He is the author of Rooftop Revolution: How Solar Power Can Save Our Economy - and Planet - from Dirty Energy (2012), a book that has been described as the clean energy manifesto for the next greatest generation.