Image credit: SolarCycle Diaries
Guest poster Caroline Chisholm's cross-channel swim isn't the only grueling eco-expedition out there. From swims in dirty, polluted water to the famous Plastiki bottle boat, there are plenty of willing adventurers on a mission to save the world. But two campaigning cyclists are now resting their weary legs having returned from a 13,500 mile, nine month circumnavigation of the globe to promote solar power. And they're return home is all the more sweet as the UK has just announced a major new scheme to promote solar energy. When Susie Wheeldon and Jamie Vining set off on their gigantic pro-solar cycling expedition, they issued a call to the UK Government to announce a decent price to be paid to homeowners generating solar electricity through a feed-in tariff. The pair were delighted when the UK feed-in tariff was launched just weeks ago, giving owners of residential solar rooftop systems the equivalent of GBP1000 (US$1600) a year in guaranteed, tax-free income for the next 25 years.
Wheeldon celebrated the new developments: "It's great to be home after such a huge journey. Even better to think that our campaigning might have made a difference. We are more determined than ever that solar power must play a very significant role in our energy future; we've seen some fantastic solar projects across the globe and know it can deliver on a larger scale. We're so happy that the UK's made so much headway since our departure - now solar power is a great investment for people. We will continue to campaign for this fantastic technology."
But residential solar was just part of the story for the cyclists. The team's tour took them through 14 countries, across deserts and mountains, visiting cutting edge solar installations along the way—from the Kuraymat concentrated solar installation in Egypt to the small-scale solar development work of SolarAid. In addition to raising money for SolarAid, the trip was also intended to raise awareness of Desertec's plans to supply Europe with solar energy from the Sahara.
It's good to see folks connecting the dots as to the true potential of solar energy. From gigantic desert-spanning power plants to solar lanterns for schools, clean energy from the sun is perhaps one of the most versatile solutions for our energy hungry world. Susie and Jamie can now put their feet up for a while, knowing they've done their part to spread the word.