Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Toby Rolt Discusses Solar Power in Arizona at AZIGG

On August 1, 2011 at Arizona International Growth Group, Toby Rolt of Brilliant Green Energy joined Patrick O'Grady of the Phoenix Business Journal and Jim Vogt of ECOtality at AZIGG to discuss the future of sustainability industries in Arizona. Mr. Rolt's informative and entertaining presentation is shown below in its entirety. Thanks to Toby and all the speakers! For more information, see AZIGG.

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My Name is Toby Rolt, I am the Co-founder & CEO of C corp Brilliant Green Energy. We launched our new corporation at the apex of global economic panic in 2008! We are developers and integrators of renewable energy systems, principally solar. We have designed, built, often financed and connected to the national grid close to 50 power plants. In addition to our projects here in Arizona, we have multi MW projects in development in Hawaii, New Jersey and California.

First let me look BACK: Every school boy knows that in 1879 Thomas Edison invented the light bulb. BUT lesser known and far more important is his creation of all the systems to support its practical use. (Durability, conductor network, insulation, switches, fuses, the dynamo, light sockets & voltage regulators)! ….. because of that at the close of the 19th century electric power plants were cropping up all over the world and networks of transmission lines were being installed. Today an uninterrupted supply of electricity is absolutely essential to the most rudimentary operation of modern society.

Myth buster 1. “I’m waiting for technology to improve”

The electricity observed by Henry Gilbert in 1600 is exactly the same as is produced by Paloverde Nuclear power plant, is the same as comes out of one of our inverters is the same as lit Edison’s incandescent light for the first time. It will not change EVER.

Now let’s look FORWARD: Can we all agree? At a point in the future we will not be able to spare 30% of all our fresh water for cooling down our Coal, Gas & Nuclear power plants as we do today. Population growth and the demand on fresh water will push the cost up. Consequently vaporizing it by the hundreds of thousands of acre feet a year will simply not be viable.

SECURITY: If the Navajo power plant was made inoperable water would stop pumping through the arterial systems of Arizona, The Central Arizona project. If Paloverde was crippled by a cyber attack simultaneously, Arizona would cease to be viable almost immediately!

This same security exposure was pointed out in 1990 by Hermen Shere to the German chancellery. Germany checked the data in a German way and immediately took action. Leading the way in home generation and renewable energy’s; wind, solar, biomass and geothermal. ALL of Germany’s naysayers were silenced when Georgia was invaded by Russia in 2008. State controlled Gazprom cut the power to Georgia and in so doing Belgium, Austria, east and south France and parts of Switzerland had their power cut too! Germany almost entirely was unaffected. So Hurrah for forward planning!

Let me be clear before I rant on, in my view the incumbent 19th and early 20th century electrical generation technologies are absolutely needed. We should take pride in what has been achieved. We should be proud of the men and women that were part of that achievement. However, our justifiable pride must not blind us from the facts.

Myth buster 2. “Coal and Nuclear are cheap”. They are not!

Nuclear Power

1) We the people guarantee its capital construction costs,

2) We have agreed to take care of one hundred years of janitorial services and when one day we discover how to deal with nuclear waste (a problem we have been unable to solve in 100 years since Rutherford first identified an electrical discharge from an atom),

3) We will take care of it,

4) We made all our R&D work from the 2nd World War available very cheaply or free,

5) We guard the transport of the fuel rods,

6) We train our army and our air force to be ready to protect the Nukes in minutes if needed (or at least I trust we do!),

7) AND greatest help of all we the people, insure all nuclear plants because no private insurance company in the world will. We charge about 1% of operating costs! (If anyone has fully comprehensive no cash limit car insurance at 1% of operational cost let me know.)

Coal Power is only cheap because we the people made it so.

1) We built and maintain the railways that transport it,

2) We clean up the acrid lakes poised by runoff from slag heaps,

3) We restore the national parks damaged by rain picking up the dust partials made airborne by blasting mountains apart.

4) We pay for the ER departments of hospitals who deal at vast expense with bronchiole problems that coincidentally are higher than normal around mining communities nationally,

5) AND congress has bestowed many tax breaks in addition.

I repeat, I do not object to any of these de-facto subsidies; but do not expect me to accept that it is cheap as well!

Myth Buster 3: “Renewable energy and solar is more expensive”. It is not!


In 50 years our Scottsdale Christian Academy (SCA) plant will still be producing at 75% of its original output. SCA will have enjoyed 20 years of below retail electricity rates and have benefitted from 30 years of free production…. In 100 years there is no technical reason why it should not be producing 50% of its original output.

All our costs are known on day one. In stark contrast to traditional plants that have no way of knowing what costs they will incur during a plants operational life.

Renewable (in particular Solar) never needed subsidy what we need is access to cheap long term capital.

Mythbuster 4. “Renewable energy is a fringe issue”

The International Energy Agency says that global power demand will rise from 15 Terawatts today to 30 Terawatts by 2050. A $26 Trillion market. Not so fringy considering the hysteria in Washington over a $13 Trillion operational debt.

The Chairman of Royal Dutch Shell told the London business school that 30% of all power would be from renewable energy by 2050. (So 66% of today’s entire energy sector globally. Fringe issue? I think not. Small brain issue!)

My industry, Solar installed 875 MW of capacity in 2010. This would be amazing if we were Estonia and not the United States of America. The world needs more than that every 2 weeks for 40 years just to meet demand, let alone replacing the existing system.

This is the equivalent of replacing ALL Europe’s entire electrical generation capacity in 10 years.

Arizona’s Market Opportunity

The macro problems we face here in Arizona of:

1. Water management,

2. Electrical demand increase,

3. Population growth

4. A need to shift to more sustainable methods of generation,

…are repeated across the United States and across the world and facing every local and national government, communist or democratic, Kingdom or dictatorship. It is necessarily and correctly political, but it need not and should not be partisan.

Arizona is better placed to hitch a ride on history than anywhere on earth.

We have ...

1) Lots of developable space,

2) Access to easily retrained labor,

3) 1st world technology and support,

4) A disproportionate per capita allocation to potable water from the Colorado pact,

5) An excellent free flowing transport system,

6) AND 6.4 daily hours exposure to the largest fuel source in our galaxy!

Arizona can and should leverage what may become known as the ‘sun rush’.

...but whether the state does or does not; whether the Country does or does not, the energy revolution IS empirically the largest economic opportunity in history, and Arizona is an ideal location to take advantage of it.

Toby Rolt

CEO, Brilliant Green Energy