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Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | 2 Comments | Updated on Dec 7, 2011

U.S. Climate Negotiator Calls for Feed-in Tariffs

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/us-climate-negotiator-calls-feed-tariffs/

From a friend at the United Nations climate meeting in Durban, South Africa:

Todd Stern, the head of the climate change negotiating team for the US Government called for Feed-in Tariff policies as key to solve the problem. Stern gave the briefing on December 7th to nearly 300 environmental group leaders in Durban, South Africa at the UN Climate Change negotiations. One of his major points was that the US and countries worldwide need to utilize the Feed-in Tariff approach in order to transform the energy production sector of society. While there was at best, luke warm, reception to his overall presentation of the US negotiating position, the crowd was impressed with his recognition of the transformative power of the German style renewable energy (Feed-in) approach. By providing investor security these policies have proven to be the fastest way to get gigawatts of good energy on line the quickest. As they say, when the house is on fire speed matters. [emphasis added]

Since feed-in tariffs are responsible for nearly two-thirds of the world’s wind power and 90 percent of the world’s solar, it’s a policy that would make sense for the American energy market.

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Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | 5 Comments | Updated on Dec 5, 2011

Federal Tax Credits Handcuff Clean Energy Development

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/federal-tax-credits-handcuff-clean-energy-development/

Clean energy advocates should cast aside their worries about increasing Republican scrutiny of energy subsidies.  The clean energy industry’s foolish reliance on tax incentives has already handcuffed its expansion. Unlike the leading nations in the clean energy race, the United States has no coherent energy policy.  Rather, its energy market is balkanized by 50 distinct… Continue reading

Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | 3 Comments | Updated on Dec 2, 2011

American and Germany Getting Their Renewable Energy Just Desserts

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/american-and-germany-getting-their-renewable-energy-just-desserts/

Germany is the unquestioned world leader in renewable energy.  By mid-2011, the European nation generated over 20 percent of its electricity from wind and solar power alone, and had created over 400,000 jobs in the industry. The sweet German success is no accident, however, and the following pie chart illustrates the results of a carefully… Continue reading

Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Dec 1, 2011

Gainesville, Florida, Uses CLEAN Contracts (aka feed-in tariffs) to Become a World Leader in Solar

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/gainesville-florida-uses-clean-contracts-aka-feed-tariffs-become-world-leader-solar/

You don’t have to be big to go big on solar power.  That’s the lesson from the Gainesville Regional Utilities, the electric utility whose feed-in tariff solar policy has brought over 7 megawatts (MW) of solar to the city’s 125,000 residents.  The raw number isn’t much, but it puts Gainesville among the world leaders in solar installed per capita, beating out Japan, France, and China (and besting California, with 32 kilowatts -kW- per 1000 residents).

chart of solar installed per 1000 residents for many nations and gainesville, fl

The basic premise behind the feed-in tariff program is that anyone who wants to be a solar power generator can connect to the grid and get a 20-year contract for their power from the municipal utility.  The long-term contract makes getting financing for solar projects easier and the prices are attractive.  The utility pays 24 cents per kilowatt-hour generated for large-scale ground-mounted systems and up to 32 cents for small, rooftop systems.

The price differentiation helps accommodate solar arrays of various sizes, from residential to larger commercial installations, spreading the economic opportunity.  The differentiation may also help small-scale residential projects that can’t use federal tax incentives for businesses (depreciation).

Thus far, approximately one-third of the city’s 7.3 MW of solar power is in relatively small systems, 100 kW and smaller.  About half the installed capacity is in projects 500 kW and larger.

The solar feed-in tariff program also brings value to the local community and electricity system.  A report released earlier this year found that the grid benefits and social benefits of solar power far outweigh the typical valuation of solar power by utilities.  These benefits include reduced stress on the utility distribution system and reduced transmission losses.

The feed-in tariff program also means local economic development.   With a rule of thumb of 8 jobs per MW, according to a University of California, Berkeley, study of the jobs created from renewable energy development, Gainesville has already generated 56 jobs.  The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has estimated that each megawatt of solar adds $240,000 to the local economy, and if Gainesville’s solar projects are locally owned, the value could be much higher.

More than anything, Gainesville provides an important lesson in local energy self-reliance.  While many communities must await action by a state legislature or investor-owned utility, the municipal utility has the authority to act quickly in support of the community.  And when the utility is locally controlled, it can mean big things for local solar power.

For more information on feed-in tariffs and their success in supporting solar power, see CLEAN v. SREC: Finding the More Cost-Effective Solar Policy.

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Vacant Walmart
Featured Article filed under Independent Business | Written by Stacy Mitchell | 2 Comments | Updated on Nov 29, 2011

Can you say ‘Sprawl’? Walmart’s Biggest Climate Impact Goes Ignored

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/can-you-say-sprawl-walmarts-biggest-climate-impact-goes-ignored/

Even as Walmart has been hyping its supposed environmental epiphany, it has continued to unroll vast, low-rise supercenters at breakneck speed. Since 2005, Walmart has added more than 1,100 new supercenters, almost all built on land that hadn’t been developed previously. Continue reading

Walmart store aisle green label
Featured Article filed under Independent Business | Written by Stacy Mitchell | No Comments | Updated on Nov 22, 2011

Walmart’s promised green product rankings fall off the radar

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/walmarts-promised-green-product-rankings-fall-off-the-radar/

In 2009, Walmart unveiled grand plans to create a Sustainability Index that would, within five years, result in green labels for all the products it sells. Two and a half years later, the project has fallen far short and seems unlikely to ever deliver a green rating system. Nor is there much evidence that greener products are edging out more damaging ones on Walmart’s shelves. Continue reading

farrell mdv seia presentation sample slide
Article, Resource filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | 1 Comment | Updated on Nov 22, 2011

Democratizing the Electricity System: A Vote for Local Solar

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/democratizing-electricity-system-vote-local-solar/

This is a presentation by John Farrell to the MDV-SEIA Solar Energy Focus conference in Washington, DC.  In it, I discuss the transformation in the electricity system being wrought by clean energy sources, the winning economies of local solar power, how the drawbacks of solar are technically surmountable, and how public policy must change to… Continue reading

Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Nov 18, 2011

Bigger Subsidies Make Bigger Solar a Bad Bet

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/bigger-subsidies-make-bigger-solar-bad-bet/

Americans seem unable to resist big things, and solar power plants are no exception. There may be no reasoning with an affinity for all things “super sized,” but the economics of large scale solar projects (and the unwelcome public scrutiny) should bury the notion that bigger is better for solar. In fact, smaller scale solar… Continue reading

walmart-turtle-carousel-a
Featured Article filed under Independent Business | Written by Stacy Mitchell | No Comments | Updated on Nov 18, 2011

Think Walmart uses 100% clean energy? Try 2%

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/think-walmart-uses-100-clean-energy-try-2/

In 2005, Walmart announced that it was setting a goal of being “supplied by 100 percent renewable energy” — and has since received a steady stream of positive press for its commitment. But six years later, the giant retailer still derives less than 2 percent of its electricity from its solar projects and wind-power purchases. At its current pace of converting to renewables, it would take Walmart about 300 years to get to 100 percent clean power. Continue reading

Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | 1 Comment | Updated on Nov 17, 2011

Solar Power is Not a Land Use Problem

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/solar-power-not-land-use-problem/

While large-scale solar creates contention between environmental advocates and renewable energy proponents, the truth is that there are thousands of acres in already developed land where solar can easily fit.  This infographic explains.

infographic-solar-land-use

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