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Milpitas School District Solar Carports 2
Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Dec 13, 2010

Distributed Solar Power, Illustrated

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/distributed-solar-power-illustrated/

With environmental (e.g. desert tortoise) and political (NIMBY) questions raised about centralized renewable energy generation, it’s worth noting that we can generate a lot of power by covering already developed spaces.  See California, where solar PV arrays cover parking lots, providing peak power and soothing shade for the shielded vehicles underneath. Not only are these… Continue reading

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Article filed under The Public Good | Written by David Morris | No Comments | Updated on Dec 13, 2010

How Canadians Built a Fair Health Care System from the Bottom Up

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/how-canadians-built-fair-health-care-system-bottom/

 The seeds of the current Canadian health system were sown in rural Saskatchewan in the early 20th century when small cities with no doctorsbegan to subsidize a physician to come and set up practice. Several communities then joined together to open publicly-funded hospitals.

In the 1930s, a new Canadian political party, whose name reflected its philosophy, the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), came to powerin Saskatchewan.

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Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Dec 9, 2010

Perverse Policy Makes Distributed Renewables More Expensive

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/perverse-policy-makes-distributed-renewables-more-expensive/

We’ve talked previously about the perversity of using tax credits to incentivize renewable energy production, increasing transaction costs and reducing participation in renewable energy development.  But there are other perversities in U.S. state and utility renewable energy policies, especially with upfront rebates and net metering. Let’s start with rebates.  Many states and utilities offer upfront… Continue reading

Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Dec 9, 2010

More Evidence on Solar PV Economies of Scale

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/more-evidence-solar-pv-economies-scale/

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

Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Dec 7, 2010

A Guide to Community Solar

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/guide-community-solar/

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

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Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Dec 7, 2010

A Feed-in Tariff Means More Market Competition

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/feed-tariff-means-more-market-competition/

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. 

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Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Dec 6, 2010

How Renewable Incentives Affect Project Ownership

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/how-renewable-incentives-affect-project-ownership/

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

Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Dec 6, 2010

Improving Economics of Distributed Generation

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/improving-economics-distributed-generation/

“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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Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Dec 6, 2010

How Renewable Incentives Affect Project Ownership

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/how-renewable-incentives-affect-project-ownership-2/

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

Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Dec 3, 2010

New Montana PSC Commissioners Scapegoat Wind for Higher Electricity Costs, but Coal is Costlier

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/new-montana-psc-commissioners-scapegoat-wind-higher-electricity-costs-coal-costlier/

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.

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