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Two days after Standard and Poor’s downgraded US government bonds, David Llewellyn-Smith, writing in The Sydney Morning Herald noted, “We now face the ludicrous circumstance in which the United States government holds … a lower (credit) rating than Microsoft, despite issuing its own currency (the world’s reserve), being able to raise taxes when it chooses,… Continue reading
One of my colleagues informed me recently that my work on feed-in tariffs was cited in a recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): the Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation. I can’t say I’ve read the IPCC report, but it’s an honor to have my work noticed by such a distinguished organization.
In case you haven’t seen it, the report they cited is one I published in 2009 called Feed-in Tariffs in America: Driving the Economy with Renewable Energy Policy that Works. Click through for the executive summary or to download the report.
Israel dealt with a similar debate, whether to adopt the Feed-in-Tariff method or the bidding method to promote the generation of renewable energy into the grid. While the electricity Authority (the equivalent body in Israel for NERSA) supported the REFIT process and the Ministry of National Infrastructures (the equivalent to the Department of Energy) and the Ministry of Finance preferred the Bidding process. Israel decided to publish REFIT in 2008, while issuing few tenders in the bidding process.
While the bidding based projects are not making big progress the REFIT based projects generate 100 MW of small systems today, an approved accumulated capacity of 150 MW that will be implemented soon. Quota of 300 MW for medium size plants was published, projects with the accumulated capacity of 200MW where given licenses and other are awaiting approval â out of 1.3 GW of proposals.
Tenders in the bidding process published in 2008 and no one was awarded the contract yet. There is only one participant in each one of in two tenders for CSP plants (100MW each). There is also a tender for a PV plant (30MW) but bidders didn’t submit their final proposals yet.
Advantages of the REFIT process over the bidding process:
1. Promotion of entrepreneurship and job creation: The Bidding process limits the game to few big players and excludes the small ones. The REFIT process allows to small and medium companies to participate. Israel developed an entire new renewable energy industry with close to a 100 active companies.
2. Efficiency: In bidding process the government becomes very involved and often intervenes in engineering and technological issues that is not capable to deal with. That creates delays and complications in the process.
3. Meeting the targets: Publishing tenders takes a lot of time, often much more than expected. That can result in not meeting the schedule targets. There is also a fear that companies that will lose the tenders will appeal to court and create more delays.
4. Simple rules of the game: the REFIT process puts together very simple rules that make it more transparent and easy to deal with.
5. The disadvantage of the REFIT process is that prices set at the beginning of the process do not reflect reduction in costs for the developers in the future. The solution is to publish quotas and a gradually decreasing REFIT.
All countries in Europe have decided to adopt the REFIT method. Israel found it as the most efficient way to promote renewable energy.
Dr. Ilan Suliman, former Vice chairman of the Israeli Electricity Authority has helped in putting these points together.
I received this information via email, but it’s also available here.
What would happen if the U.S. adopted the world’s flagship solar energy policy – a feed-in tariff? This policy is responsible for three-quarters of the world’s solar power capacity and offers the simplest mechanism for expanding production of solar power and other renewable energy.
Pricing CLEAN Contracts for Solar PV in the U.S. explores how such a policy (also known as CLEAN contracts) would be priced in the U.S. market, translating the world-leading German program to America. The report, authored by ILSR senior researcher John Farrell, accounts for the much greater solar resource in the U.S. and examines the price utilities would have to pay to obtain the most solar, most affordably.
The report examines what these prices would be with existing federal incentives and without, exploring the price states could pay to maximize their solar power potential.
CLEAN Rate for < 30 kW Rooftop Solar PV @ $3.50/W – ITC and depreciation
What would happen if the U.S. adopted the world’s flagship solar energy policy – a feed-in tariff? This policy is responsible for three-quarters of the world’s solar power capacity and offers the simplest mechanism for expanding production of solar power and other renewable energy. Pricing CLEAN Contracts for Solar PV in the U.S.explores how such… Continue reading
Thanks to innovative energy policy, residents of Ontario can invest in local solar power projects by buying SolarShare bonds. The $1,000 bond provides a 5% annual return over five years and the money is invested in solar power projects across the province (as the chart below shows, this beats a savings account with 0.8% interest or even a 5-year U.S. treasury, with 0.91% interest). Continue reading
The Germans have installed over 10,000 megawatts of solar panels in the past two years, enough to power 2 million American homes (most of Los Angeles, CA). If Americans installed local solar at the same torrid pace, we could already power most of the Mountain West, could have a 100 percent solar nation by 2026, while enriching thousands of local communities with new development and jobs.
The following map shows the states that could be powered by solar if the U.S. kept pace with Germany on solar power in the past two years (installed the same megawatts on a per capita basis).
Solar Would Power the Mountain West if The U.S. Kept Pace with Germany
The spread of solar has not resulted in covering natural areas or fertile land with solar panels. Rather, 80 percent of the solar installed in Germany was on rooftops and built to a local scale (100 kilowatts or smaller – think the roof of a church or a Home Depot store). Solar in the U.S. also can use existing space. The following map shows the amount of a state’s electricity that could come from rooftop solar alone, from our 2009 report Energy Self-Reliant States:
State Potential Rooftop PV:
While the local rooftop solar potential of these states varies from 19 to 51 percent, there’s much more land available for solar without covering parks or crops. Once again, data from Energy Self-Reliant States (p. 13):
On either side of 4 million miles of roads, the U.S. has approximately 60 million acres (90,000 square miles) of right of way. If 10 percent the right of way could be used, over 2 million MW of roadside solar PV could provide close to 100 percent of the electricity consumption in the country. In California, solar PV on a quarter of the 230,000 acres of right of way could supply 27% of state consumption.
Such local solar power also provides enormous economic benefits. For every megawatt of solar installed, as many as 9 jobs are created. But the economic multiplier is significantly higher for locally owned projects, made possible when solar is built at a local scale as the Germans have done.
With local ownership, making America a 100% solar nation could create nearly 10 million jobs, and add as much as $450 billion to the U.S. economy.
The Germans have found the profitable marriage between their energy and environmental policy. It’s time for America to discover the same opportunity.
Throughout human history societies have been informed and instructed by the superstitions of their age. For thousands of years we believed a single person–a king, a pharaoh, a high priest– should have life and death power over us. Any other social structure was unthinkable. We believed the gods that brought drought could be appeased only by animal and, sometimes, human sacrifice. Today these superstitions seem ridiculous. How could thinking people ever have believed such preposterous notions? Continue reading
Just a reminder that while Texas swelters and its electric grid sags, rooftop solar PV alone could meet 35 percent of the state’s electricity needs. Map from Energy Self-Reliant States:
State Potential Rooftop PV:
Not only is the potential high, but the cost is low. The levelized cost of solar is just 14 cents per kilowatt-hour in Texas, when including the federal 30 percent tax credit. Cost estimates from ILSR.
Texans should start using the sun to beat the heat.