The former chairman, president, and CEO of Duke Energy, the largest electric power company in the United States, argues that access to clean, sustainable electricity should be a basic human right.
Without access to electricity, education, health care, efficient farming, and development are barely conceivable. One out of every 6 people worldwide (1.5 billion total) lack any access to electricity. Another 1.5 billion have limited access. Discussing income equality, equal rights for women, and other issues without talking about electricity, writes Rogers, “is a huge blind spot.” Everyone, he insists, will benefit from dramatically reducing the use of expensive and polluting kerosene and firewood and improving health and educational levels. The primarily coal-based supply systems of North America and Western Europe, which India and China are instituting, will not provide a sustainable solution. What is needed, Rogers argues, is “a new way to deliver [electricity] that doesn't involve the heavy pollution of power plants, or the complex grid of electrical wires.” The author presents case studies from India and Africa to show how small-scale solar power and battery-storage combinations are being used to provide light and cellphone charger capabilities at the village level. Rogers also examines installer education, maintenance, and payment systems, developing the case for power generation by way of franchises and locally authorized monopolies. As he notes, for remote rural villages, central generating and long-range grid distribution are not practical. Rogers provides a comprehensive overview of sub-Saharan Africa, India, and Indonesia as potential major contributors to the needed post-coal redesign of electrical production and distribution in America and Europe. He compares fuel sources and generating technologies in light of the challenges of reducing carbon emissions and global warming, and he both points out the problems and ranks proposed solutions.
A passionate, but not ideological, argument that offers a practical approach to solving real problems.