Climate change is creating an increasing urgency for a shift to renewable energy sources. This is urgent because our current energy economy, that of extractive capitalism, is still rapidly accelerating our planet into increasing misery. We're looking at a grim future of floods, heat waves, crop loss and countless unanticipated related challenges.

One of those challenges is that as climate change increases, failures of the electrical grid infrastructure also increase. If we continue to consume power generated from non-renewable sources, we contribute to the uninhabitability of our cities and planet.

As communities are rising up against state violence and pushing for transformative justice and growing solidarity on the ground, we're seeing a clear connection to climate change. Just as poor and colonized communities have been the target of policing and incarceration, the same communities face flooding and heat at scales unmatched by more affluent communities.

Philly organizers (EQAT and others) have recently called out PECO to expand their portfolio of renewable energy resources. PECO currently, despite paying lip service to wind and solar, consists of a paltry .5% renewables. This despite a climate emergency which demands an immediate shift to renewables. Corporations like PECO who control our energy production do not feel the urgency and our governments are hardly moving to pressure and legislate necessary infrastructure changes.

Building Energy Solidarity

In the meantime, we have the opportunity as social movements to experiment and build energy solidarity and energy autonomy in ways that materially improve the lives of poor people. And like other foci of struggle, it's crucial we do this in a way that is generative for movements for justice as a whole. So, we're looking for ways to use renewable energy to build community power as well as meet needs.

Philadelphia abounds with resources for community generated solar solidarity! We have land in the city that we already use for farms, gathering places, and solar generation – and there could be a lot more. We have acres of flat rooftops that could house solar to fuel our needs.

As renewable technology advances, we will be seeing more and more used gear enter the recycling market. Much of this can be reused directly to power our neighborhoods and improve people's lives. As with solar panels which continue to produce power for decades, industrial, medical and electric vehicle batteries are continually upgraded long before exhausting their capacity. These batteries can be converted to be used for solar storage for our gardens, for our houses, and for land and housing occupations.

Expanding the use of renewables also holds substantial potential for meeting economic needs in the form of jobs. As we push for a move to community solar and energy autonomy, there is work to be done. In economically struggling neighborhoods, a move to solar could be a way to create employment as well as community owned and controlled infrastructure: neighborhood assets which can directly improve our lives.

Let's push collective action, people and planet over markets, common good over profits, and liveability and equity for our cities.

What can this look like in practice? Holobiont Lab is looking at the following areas:

Small scale portable power

Small-scale, solar-chargeable, portable battery packs from recycled lithium batteries are perfect for homeless encampments, mobile media stations, etc.



Microgrids are small solar power generators in communities that provide for the neighborhood. Imagine fields of solar panels in empty lots maintained by and benefiting the community, that also provide shade for neighbors. A microgrid can also span multiple roofs of rowhouses. A neighborhood with a solar farm lives can use the power themselves and choose how to distribute income from the power generated. Its construction and maintenance could employ community members and serve as an economic social space for organizing.

Gardens and Farms

We're currently developing an array of small-scale, open source technology for community gardens and farms to provide power and irrigation. Also built from recycled materials where possible, solar can be used for shade, to power refrigeration, to charge tools and devices, and more.

Household rooftop installations

Rooftop installations have failed to reach most economically struggling communities because the costs put installation out of reach for most households. However, combining cost reductions by using recycled solar panels and local community labor could make this a reality well within the reach of struggling homeowners. By adding tax incentives and grants, we could potentially offer free installations.

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