Alan Simpson: During the election campaign Elon Musk launched his domestic-scale battery storage system for home-produced electricity. It doesn’t matter whether this turns out to be the ultimate answer or not. It is a game changer. Marketed in conjunction with WalMart in the US, and partnering with Lichtblick in Germany, Musk aims to turn “storage” into the same mass-market product that solar has become. No less significant was the Fraunhofer Institute’s launch of its “plug and play” solar roofs, that can be installed in an hour and at a cost of around £1/watt. Sod your everlasting subsidies to nuclear. Sod your obsessions with oil and fracking. Sod the market mechanisms that (expensively) prop up old energy cartels. This is already a past more likely to turn up in car boot sales than in successful economies. The biggest changes in tomorrow’s energy systems aren’t even waiting for politicians. Soon homes will have generation and storage systems that are as “normal” as central heating. We will be heading away from today’s centralised energy cartels and into a different era of energy democracies. Add to this the technology partnerships across Germany (and in Manchester!) that are creating local power “systems” (virtual power plants) to serve whole towns and cities, and you begin to get a picture of a different energy economics — one that will deliver massive increases in employment, energy security and interconnectedness. Clean “heat” networks will follow next. And within it all, communities will compete around reduced carbon footprints and lower consumption. At a lower-tech level, we will also begin to grasp what Oxford researchers recently told us — that the best carbon capture and storage technologies already exist. They are called soil and trees.