Archive for category Great Localization

German Solar Outshines Fukushima’s Nukes

Reporting in Grist, Christopher Mims notes, with appropriate qualifications, that “total power output of Germany’s installed solar PV panels hit 12.1 GW — greater than the total power output (10 GW) of Japan’s entire 6-reactor nuclear power plant.” The kicker:

Japan’s facing rolling blackouts until next Winter, and it’s undeniable that if the country had more distributed power generation like Germany’s roof-based solar PV system, the entire country would be much more resilient in the face of catastrophe.



Manufacturing? Make It Local

Wouldn’t you know it, her Grey Ladyship, The New York Times, has an opinion piece on the localization of manufacturing. Allison Arieff observes that “the monolithic industry model — steel, oil, lumber, cars — has evolved into something more nimble and diversified . . .  as manufacturers see the benefits of being smaller and paying attention to how patterns of consumption, ownership and use are shifting.”  Mark Dwight started SFMade in 2010 to promote local manufacturing in San Francisco: for example, here’s  an upcoming workshop on setting up a manufacturing process. Kate Sofis, executive director of SFMade, observes:

“Manufacturing isn’t dead and doesn’t need to be preserved,” she says. “Let’s stop fixating on what’s lost. Let’s see what we have here, what’s doing well, and let’s help those folks do better.”

Pride of  place helps in the branding and marketing of local manufactures and, of course, it plays into the sustainability pitch, which is sometimes real, and sometimes not (do I hear BP?).

There’s a similar game afoot in New York City, Made in NYC, and her Grey Ladyship has written a number of articles about local manufacturing successes: envelopes, bicycles, brushes, boilers, specialty lights, and mattresses. And, of course, readers list other examples in their comments. Arieff notes that “growing consumer demand for greener, more ethically produced products, along with skyrocketing unemployment and nervousness about globalization all work in the groups’ favor.”

And those demands are all over the place. Local’s the way to go. After all, that’s where everyone is, no? If you aren’t where you are, then where could you possibly be?

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Lease Solar Panels for Your Home

Eco-critic and environmentalist Tim Morton has decided to lease solar panels for his home: “You can lease solar panels from Solar City for about $80 a month for 15 with zero down. That gives you about 25 kilowatt hours of electricity, which is enough for my family of four, sometimes with some to spare. In many places you can now sell the extra back to the grid.” Tim Lives in California. Solar City also serves Arizona, Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington, D.C.

Has anyone had experience with them? With other solar leasing options?


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Unemployment, Barter, and Local Currencies

Over at Marginal Revolution Alex Tabarrok has an interesting post on barter, local currency, and unemployment.

There was a huge increase in barter and exchange associations during the Great Depression with hundreds of spontaneously formed groups across the country such as California’s Unemployed Exchange Association (U.X.A.). These barter groups covered perhaps as many as a million workers at their peak.

In addition, I include with barter the growth of alternative currencies or local currencies such as Ithaca Hours or LETS systems. The monetization of non-traditional assets can alleviate demand shocks which is one reason why it’s good to have flexibility in the definition of and free entry into the field of money …

During the Great Depression there was a marked increase in alternative currencies or scrip, now called depression scrip.

This doesn’t seem to be happening now. Have we forgotten, lost resilience?

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No Nukes, because we Know Nukes

The current nuclear emergency in Japan underlines the need to transition to local power sources that are safe and sustainable. Writing in Artvoice, Michael Niman explains:

Global warming could radically transform the planet into something much less inhabitable. Peak oil could radically change society—and the change won’t be pleasant to live through. But nuclear power—now here’s something with the potential to render the whole planet uninhabitable. Nuclear waste is deadly—extremely deadly—for hundreds of thousands of years after it’s produced. We’ve produced hundreds of tons of this crap already and still have no clue what to do with it other than assuming we’ll have the wherewithal to babysit it for the next quarter of a million years through whatever chaos comes our way.


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Adaptation, Resilience and Distributed Power

In the course of a discussion about the earthquake in Japan, Adrew Revkin and David Roberts talk about the to start adapting to coming changes and, in particular, they talk about the need for a distributed power grid and bottom-up efforts. Video at

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Real Returns, Sustainable Communities

In the Spring of 2010 three executives in New York University’s CleanTech Executives Program, conducted a field survey and study on locally-driven sustainable energy initiatives: Wendy Brawer, Brett Barndt, and Lakis Polycarpou, Real Returns for Sustainable Communities: White Paper, Linking Communities and Investors for Sustainable Development (downloadable PDF of the complete study). They were particularly interested in how such projects could be financed:

Our survey found that investment professionals are interested in local sustainable development projects as a potential asset class. As one professional put it, “Local infrastructure projects like these are very suitable to our investor profiles.” Project finance professionals also said that they expected the sustainable development industry to “grow immensely,” and the key is to “build a platform” for growth.

What then is needed to increase adoption of cleantech and sustainable development projects? “We need to get beyond the bias we have toward centralized energy sources,” and develop ways to get small projects funded, said one professional.

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