“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.”
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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
In the beginning, there was the post office. Before the Internet, before cable, before TV, before radio, mail delivery was our major means of mass communication. The founders of the United States understood its importance and deemed that it must be a public institution. Article I, Section 8, Clause 7, of the U.S. Constitution states, “Congress shall have Power to establish Post Offices and Post Roads.”
Congress wanted the U.S. Post Office to be a monopoly, but the Post Office still had to deal with private companies that found loopholes in these rules.
When discussing centralized v. decentralized solar power, there’s an inevitable comparison between solar thermal electric power and solar photovoltaic (PV). But the fact is that solar thermal power – or concentrating solar power (CSP) – can also be done in a distributed fashion. In fact, of the 21 operational CSP plants in the world, 18… Continue reading
The CEO of a leading Indian solar energy firm issues a call for a U.S. federal feed-in tariff in yesterday’s New York Times:
Two things happened last month to give us pause to reflect on clean energy. First, Germany added the equivalent of nearly 1 percent of its electricity supply with solar energy between January and August. The first 1 percent took 10 years to achieve; the next 1 percent just 8 months. Second, the author of this revolution, Hermann Scheer, died.
The United States is one of the two top energy consumers in the world (along with China), so the world cares how fast America becomes convinced that there is a viable replacement to fossil fuels. The domestic American market should reach 1,000 megawatts next year. But to put that in perspective, Germany next year could add 1,000 megawatts in just 1.5 months.
To catch up, President Barack Obama needs to push for a federal feed-in tariff, or a mandate for states to have one, and fund it with a surcharge on conventional power — small enough to pass, but big enough to move solar away from cumbersome grants and tax incentives that come and go with the annual budget circus.
In mid-October, yet another municipality joined the growing list of lawsuits against the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac over the popular Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program. Arguments in the court case will be heard next week.
A federal judge will consider next week whether to dismiss lawsuits questioning the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s decision to effectively shut down a White House-supported home energy efficiency program.
In a closely watched case, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken of the Northern District of California will hear arguments Dec. 2 over whether to dismiss several lawsuits against the agency, including one filed by the state of California.
I’m hopeful that the plaintiffs can win – PACE could really open the door to major improvements in home energy efficiency and expansion of distributed renewable energy.
North Carolina consumers and businesses would pay more for slower internet access when communities are preempted from building broadband infrastructure according to a new analysis released today by the Institute for Self-Reliance’s New Rules Project. This analysis shows that community fiber networks are faster and cheaper than incumbent cable and telephone networks in North Carolina. Continue reading
It’s rarely mentioned that a home with a solar array still gets most of its electricity from the grid. In fact, without storage, a typical home solar array might only serve one-third of a home’s electricity use, even if the system is big enough to meet the home’s peak needs. The problem is a mis-match… Continue reading