The concept of backcasting, or imagining ourselves in a future we want to see and then identifying tte path that got us there, may sound like a wishy-washy motivational workshop activity. But it is a powerful way to identify not just what we want to achieve, but a strategic, step-by-step path for getting us there. (I've posted before on why environmentalists need strategy.) That's why a Renewable Energy World report on a presentation by Julia Hamm, president of the Solar Electric Power Association caught my eye. In it, she took the audience to 2031 and presented as the CEO of Tomorrow Power and Light, the first US utility to cite solar power as its main source of energy. Crucially, despite all the solar naysayers we hear around us, she cites 2011 as a major turning point for the clean energy industries:
Hamm then went on to outline the path that the utility took to arrive at this point, stating that while solar power now, in 2031, is taken for granted, back in 2011 it wasn’t. “When I joined the utility in 2011, solar power wasn’t very high on the list of national priorities,” she said. “A recession, skyrocketing unemployment rates, national debt and global security issues far out-shadowed energy issues,” she added.
From the vantage point of 2031, however, it is clear that 2011 was the turning point for solar power, Hamm said. It was the first “gigawatt year” in the U.S., with the country installing more than 1 GW of solar power, reflecting almost 100 percent growth in the industry, all taking place in the middle of a recession.