Monday, July 24, 2023

Solar energy: the end that justifies the means

So the other day the electricity bill came to the tune of 4,250,000 Liras (4 million 250 thousands liras) - that was for the months of September/October 2022. I refused to pay it. The reason? Ever since I installed my solar panels (here), I have switched off both the generator and the state electricity. So this number is unreal and I think they approximated it from previous bills. 

If I am recounting this instance it is because apparently Al Sharq Al Awsat newspaper claims that around 40% of Lebanese households have switched to solar panels (or "clean energy"). I have been speaking about the environment since before it became a fad, doing conferences and spreading the word. Here's what the newspaper got wrong. It says that people have switched to solar panels "out of need" not for "environmental reasons". 

Again to be clear, spreading the green message is never easy or nice. But once everything starts to hit your pocket, suddenly logic seems clear. So basically, this is one of those cases where the end does justify the means. Sure, people in Lebanon are used to a very low pricing of the kilowatt (at the time prior to the 2019 crisis it was the cheapest in the region). And maybe people are not aware that solar panels need yearly cleaning (a small sum) or that during winter storms one really needs to manage well to make the energy last all day (even with 8 panels and 4 batteries I had 2 power cuts this winter - so I had to unplug our refrigerators for the day during winter storms for the batteries to last).

But these are very small inconveniences when 1) you are not paying electricity bills which became obnoxiously expensive 2) when you have electricity round the clock - yes, when well managed, even in winter 3) when you are avoiding the generator bill which also became illogical 4) when you don't have to wait for the state electricity which is incredibly erratic and untrustworthy.

I think what the newspaper failed to understand, is that sometimes - regardess of the reasons - the end does justify the means.