Posted by: Dirk | March 16, 2009

Good news – the market still works (sometimes)

The economic crisis has lead to new innovations already. I want to mention just two of them. First, it appears that solar energy is becoming cheap, so cheap actually that it might be competitive. Here is an article from Energy and Capital via MatterNetwork:

In the long-term, price reduction is good for the industry because it allows solar to compete with the going rate for retail electricity.  But the rapid decline has left most producers holding the bag, sometimes having to sell panels at less than cost or with a negative margin.

So that is good in the long run. Cheaper energy because of technological innovation, and cleaner since only the parts used for the solar panels have to be built. Sunshine comes for free. Increasing the amount of cleaner and cheaper energy is one thing, which is taken with a long-run perspective. On the other side, energy saving is the better option for the short run.

A new way to save energy in Barcelona is bicing. bicing is a bicycle rental which is owned by the local government’s transport authority. Bikes can be picked up anywhere in the city at bike stations (see pictures and map here). An annual subscriptions costs 30 euros, plus 50 cents for every half hour of bike use. This is cheaper than bus or metro, which are also cheap (10 metro rides cost around 7,50 euros). Already more than 180,000 people have signed up.

Having lived a lot of years in the (flat) North of Germany, I am familiar with bikes. Seeing them in Barcelona is something new. When I lived here 6 years ago there was no sign of bicycles, everybody was into scooters. This created a lot of noise and bad smell, plus a lot of injured and dead young people. Insurance for a scooter cost something like 600 euros a year because of that, while in Germany it would be below 100 euros for the same scooter. So using bikes instead of scooters might be a good idea for many reasons.

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