Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

Sure, if you take today's technology and apply it to 2040 then it doesn't paint a pretty picture. However if you assume that technology will advance over 20 years, then things do look better. Battery technology, cost of solar and other off-the-grid energy sources, and electric vehicle supply chains have changed significantly since 2000, and will likely continue to do so by 2040. It's very difficult to predict what things will look like by then.

And yep, in places like BC where most of the population lives in cities, you tend to get laws much more oriented towards what city dwellers want.

> Sure, if you take today's technology and apply it to 2040 then it doesn't paint a pretty picture.

Obviously, newer and improved tech would be even better, and if we have it, that's great. But I'm not convinced we need it.

Even if we were just stuck with today's 2019-era technology, we could still meet this mandate by 2040, just by widely deploying the green technology we already have on-hand today.

Rural and suburban communities don't need any reduction in quality of life to meet this mandate, we just need to deploy today's tech reliably out there.

Is rooftop solar even viable in the northern half of the province? High latitudes get way less sun.

Yeah in Northern BC solar is pretty marginal I think. BC does have heaps of hydro electric power though. There is a lot of potential for wind power off the coast of Haida Gwaii as well (and I assume many other places off the northern coast).

Have my girlfriend's father out for the weekend from Nanaimo. Just last night he was telling us about Kitimat where he grew up. They drilled tunnels through mountains to create enourmous hydro generating stations. Pretty interesting stuff. I'd be curious to hear more about the environmental impacts of that project—but yes lots of hydroelectric power up there—and potential for more if I understand correctly.


That's great for urban folks, but doesn't really help people living off the grid.

How do you get fuel for your gas combustion engine now? How do you get electricity now?

I personally am not in that situation, but people who haul diesel & other fuels out into the backwoods do exist. Batteries aren't quite as viable for that because they're way less energy dense and in general less environmentally stable.

Well, we have 21 more years to figure that out. Besides, it is not that all vehicles that take gas will suddenly disappear.

So there will be more than 21 years to discover an alternative.

There are some people using micro-hydro for off-grid living: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUNMjdmGIPI&list=PLEZ2hvCDKU...

I know a lot of people living off the grid who get their electricity via small-scale hydro.

Marginal as in not cost effective? Or marginal as in barely provides any juice?

With a decade or two more of cost scaling, we may be able to very effectively deploy solar in a lot of places we wouldn't consider today due to economics.

I don't know much about solar power, but in Haida Gwaii (which is pretty far North and fairly gloomy) in winter you get around 1-1.3kwh/m2. Doesn't seem like a lot?


> Is rooftop solar even viable in the northern half of the province? High latitudes get way less sun.

Most towns/cities aren't nearly as space constrained outside the lower mainland, so larger non-rooftop solar would be an option (along with the wind/hydro/etc that others have mentioned)

High altitudes can actually get a lot more sun if you are above the clouds. But BC isn’t really high altitude like Tibet is, they just have lots of mountains. Edit: read parent wrong, never mind about altitude.

Latitude, not altitude.

Oh oops. In that case, whether you get a lot of sun or not depends on what season you are in. But mostly northern BC is a rain forest like southern Alaska or even western Washington/Vancouver, not the best place for solar.

Solar power actually works better to the north where there is less cloud cover, eg see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_power_in_Alaska and https://energyhub.org/yukon-territory/.

Wind probably does pretty good up there.

Lots of mountains, but sparsely populated so they don't need to find all that many locations.

Wind only really makes sense offshore/on the Western coast of the island, and in a few other limited places. They stuck a turbine on the top of Grousse mountain (a PR stunt for the Olympics), and it barely moved.

Solar can work in the interior, but isn't much use on the coast.

Hydro is the main renewable source of energy out here. It has it's issues of course, but it does provide a lot of cheap, reasonably-green energy.

There’s a sense that individuals in rural areas will need to move into urban environments for the sake of climate change.

No thanks. Forcing millions from their homes is unlikely, and you couldn't pay me 1m to live in the city. Just because mostly that same population screwed up the countryside with irresponsible energy use does not entitle them to now ask me to move.

> Forcing millions from their homes is unlikely

You'll be lucky if it's mere millions: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/dec/21/devastat...

There’s historical precedent in the relocation of Newfoundland outports in the ‘60s. One reason that was given at the time was to move individuals into areas supported by modern infrastructure.

The idea of people needing to congregate into large, dense urban centers while global climate change apparently wreaks havoc on our food supply chain is down-right psychotic.

How significantly has battery technology really changed? As far as I can tell, batteries haven't become that much better. I don't see how they'll become that much better in the future either.

20 years ago the EV-1 was the state of the art, with 26 KWh of NiMH batteries. And that was a massive advancement over the lead acid batteries the EV-1 used when introduced a couple of years prior.

In the '80's kids RC toys were powered by a fat yellow battery the size of a hot dog bun that basically everyone from that era will recognize.

Today, a single rechargeable AA battery can hold twice the power as that '80's hot-dog battery. That's a big improvement, over 10x more dense, with more improvements in the pipeline.

> In the '80's kids RC toys were powered by a fat yellow battery the size of a hot dog bun that basically everyone from that era will recognize.

I know what you're talking about - but if you're talking about things like the Tamiya Grasshopper or similar - those RC vehicles were not "kids toys" but rather hobbyist-grade RC. At the time, a full setup would cost a few hundred dollars; even today, to purchase a new Tamiya RC kit vehicle, it will set you back a couple hundred when you factor in everything.

I know this because I recently did it; the car was a little over $100.00 off Amazon, then I had to pick up the electronics (which I didn't go cheap on), plus I added some "hop ups" (better motor, ball bearing upgrade, tires, etc). Then the battery and charger.

So - even today - I wouldn't classify it as a "kids toy" (teenage and older hobbyists don't qualify as "kids" in this sense, but that's just my opinion of course); there's too much money involved. If you or someone you knew had one of these plus all the other stuff, they were a lucky person indeed (a friend of mine in middle school had one, back when the ESC was resistance-based - I went in a different direction, and had a bunch of computer crap - so I guess we were both lucky in different ways).

I consider kid's RC toys to be anything costing under $100.00 and "ready-to-run" (RTR), usually without any kind of real servo or speed controls (that said, even that level has changed greatly; what you can get today for around $50.00 beats the pants off of anything you could get for that amount in the 80s - even in 80s dollars).

You'd need 6 AA batteries to deliver the same voltage as one of those RC car packs and give a direct comparison.

They were typically 6x sub-C cells, with a capacity of 1000mAh. (I remember paying extra for a 1300mAh pack!). You can get 5000mAh cells today, so it's a 5x improvement.

There's also hydrogen in addition to battery electric.

For most of B.C wood-gasification would be a great solution!


You can't haul electricity into the wilderness.

When I was out deep in the wilderness on mountains in the middle of Asia far far far off the grid and away from even roads, there was no petroleum to be found, but the inns I stayed in always had electricity (either via local hydro, solar, or both).

It's a humorous irony that people see petroleum as vital for off-the-grid living. A dependence on regular petroleum deliveries is not really that "off-grid".

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact