We’ve discussed the unconventional wisdom that economies of scale are limited for wind and solar (and likely other renewable energy technologies). Another piece of evidence comes from a December 2009 report by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI): Solar Photovoltaics: Status, Costs, and Trends. This chart, taken from page 14, illustrates the percent of the… Continue reading
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About John Farrell
John Farrell directs the Energy Self-Reliant States and Communities program at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and he focuses on energy policy developments that best expand the benefits of local ownership and dispersed generation of renewable energy. More
If you like reading about “what we can do better” in community solar policy, check out our report – Community Solar Power: Obstacles and Opportunities – but if you like a very detailed exploration of how the three major models for community solar navigate the ins and outs of existing incentives and regulations, and a primer on how to set up a community solar project, you can’t go wrong with NREL’s Guide to Community Solar.
The world’s most effective clean energy policy – the feed-in tariff – isn’t a government program, but rather reshapes the electricity market to favor renewable energy production. And it increases competition, as well.
An even more appealing outcome of this innovative program is that it has decentralized Germany’s energy market. Whereas four major utilities used to control all of the electricity production in the country, the guaranteed access to the grid and the fixed credit have opened up the electricity market, rapidly decentralizing the country’s energy oligarchy. The shift has been so dramatic that utilities only account for a tenth of the entire renewable electricity market in the country. Instead, it is small businesses, families and farmers that are responsible for producing the vast majority of the clean energy used in the country. This has ensured that the economic benefits of clean energy have been broadly distributed – helping to ensure that more Germans will benefit from the boon and creating even greater support for the industry. [emphasis mine]
Decentralizing renewable energy production means more widely shared economic benefits and more political support for renewable energy.
In less than a month, solar energy projects will see the stimulus-funded cash grant in lieu of the 30 percent tax credit expire. The change back to tax-credit-financed projects provides a revealing look at the disadvantages of energy incentives based on the tax code. See what our energy blogger, John Farrel, has to say about this development and the recent news coverage about it. Read the full post over at our Energy Self Reliant States web site. Continue reading
“The economics of sub-utility scale renewable energy continue to improve at a rapid pace…This downward price curve is fueling demand for distributed solar PV and small wind systems as an alternative to centralized power generation.”
In less than a month, solar energy projects will see the stimulus-funded cash grant in lieu of the 30 percent tax credit expire. The change back to tax-credit-financed projects provides a revealing look at the disadvantages of energy incentives based on the tax code, thanks especially to a recent NY Times story about the shift. … Continue reading
You can’t make this stuff up.
Montana’s two newly elected Public Service Commissioners put out numbers, during their campaigns, purporting to show that electricity from renewable energy sources – specifically, wind – is more expensive than electricity from fossil fuels like coal.
Problem is, the truth is the exact opposite. And these two people now regulate the electricity industry in Montana. Kudos to citizen Ben Brouwer of AERO and the Billings News for getting to the truth:
Here are the comparative wholesale prices for electricity that [the state's largest private utility] NorthWestern Energy [NWE] acquires from different sources:
• Colstrip Unit 4 (coal): $56.05 per megawatt hour (MWh)
• PPL (mix of coal & hydro): $48.75 per MWh
• Judith Gap (wind): $29.25 per MWh, plus $8-13 per MWh for “integration” costs
• Energy Efficiency: $4.80 per MWh
Turns out the most expensive power acquisition for NWE is coal, with wind and energy efficiency being the least costly.
Key benefits of distributed power generation (DP). Proven technologies for DP are widely scalable. Obvious example: a wind farm can be incrementally built in multiples of approximately 1.4 MW. Bigger doesn’t necessarily mean “cheaper” for DP. Customers can match the DP capacities to precisely known needs and not have to over-buy equipment. (see Figure 1… Continue reading
An interesting graphic that shows how the definition of distributed generation can vary by technology, since one “module” of a wind power plant (~1.5 megawatts) is very different than one solar module (~250 Watts).
Image credit:Electric Power Systems Research 57 (2001) 195-204; Ackermann et. al.
Wholesale market operators should probably pay providers of smart energy demand more than gas plant generators for ancillary services such as operating reserves. Why? Because the faster response of “a battery or a dishwasher or a water heater or an aluminum pot or compressor in a Wal-Mart [that] can respond on a microsecond basis… should be rewarded a higher payment because, in fact, it’s providing a better service.”