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Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Oct 21, 2010

Distributed solar less variable than centralized solar

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

Traditionally, the reliability of small PV systems’ power output has been a concern for utilities, project developers and grid operators, since all it takes is a few clouds to disrupt the power flow of a small array. But the Berkeley Lab study suggests that when PV plant arrays are spread out over a geographic area, the variability in power output is largely eliminated.

This means that for utilities, the distributed generation of small PV arrays could mean increased efficiency, reduced costs and a quicker path to a cleaner energy portfolio.

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Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Oct 20, 2010

Vermont Says Its Feed-in Tariff Complies with Federal Law

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/vermont-says-its-feed-tariff-complies-federal-law/

There’s been much discussion of whether state-based feed-in tariff policies comply with federal energy law, including PURPA and the Federal Power Act. Fortunately, the brilliant folks at NREL released a report earlier this year providing feed-in tariff policy design options for state policy makers [pdf]. Furthermore, the state of Vermont recently affirmed that their feed-in tariff policy conforms to federal law.

The PSB, the regulatory authority, ruled that no challenger, including DPS, had “demonstrated that the standard offer program is invalid”. Under Vermont law, the PSB has the “obligation to implement statutes passed by the legislature,” it said, and, thus, it was their duty to do so if the law is valid.

Some challengers suggested that the PSB suspend the program while it seeks clarification from FERC. The PSB ruled definitively saying that to seek clarification from FERC; the PSB would be making a determination that the program is invalid. The program is valid, says the PSB, therefore there’s no need to seek clarification.

Good news for a policy that delivers strong support for distributed renewable energy generation.

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Article, ILSR Press Room filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | 1 Comment | Updated on Oct 20, 2010

New Rules Project Launches Energy Self-Reliant States

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/new-rules-project-launches-energy-selfreliant-states/

Building on the highly acclaimed 2009 report of the same name, today the Institute for Local Self-Reliance launches Energy Self-Reliant States, a new website to provide expert analysis and policy solutions for a decentralized renewable energy future. Continue reading

Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Oct 19, 2010

Will Solar PV Kill Concentrating Solar Thermal Power?

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/will-solar-pv-kill-concentrating-solar-thermal-power/

The boon of concentrating solar thermal power plants is their ability to deliver more consistent electricity, and to offer thermal storage (cheaper than batteries) to expand their daily coverage. 

But it might be in serious trouble. And this time the culprit is not cheap natural gas, the Koch Brothers, nor the desert tortoise advocates.

…The relentless price declines of PV panels allows developers to build PV plants at a lower cost than their [concentrating solar thermal] CST cousins. This issue is illustrated in the following Capital Cost per watt chart (an excerpt from the upcoming GTM Research “CSP Report”). In 2010, the price to build a CSP park run by Troughs, Power Towers or Dish-Engines will cost between $5.00 and $6.55 per watt (AC). On the other hand, utility-scale PV projects can limbo below $3.50 a watt (DC).

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Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Oct 19, 2010

Pumped Hydro Storage Still Cheaper Than Batteries

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/pumped-hydro-storage-still-cheaper-batteries/

A nice, short comparison of the cost of electricity storage with pumped hydropower and batteries.

Using pumped hydro to store electricity costs less than $100 per kilowatt-hour and is highly efficient, Chu told his energy advisory board during a recent meeting. By contrast, he said, using sodium ion flow batteries — another option for storing large amounts of power — would cost $400 per kWh and have less than 1 percent of pumped hydro’s capacity.

Of course, you need to have a river with a likely reservoir location to have any significant quantity of pumped storage, making the article’s reference to Texas a bit ironic.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, here’s a nice diagram of pumped storage from Consumers Energy:

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Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | 1 Comment | Updated on Oct 19, 2010

Distributed, Small-Scale Solar Competes with Large-Scale PV

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/distributed-small-scale-solar-competes-large-scale-pv/

Distributed solar photovoltaic (PV) proponents have recognized that solar is not without economies of scale – larger installations generally have lower installed costs per Watt of peak capacity.  But new data suggests that these economies are significantly smaller than previously believed.  This is good news for solar and great news for the renewable energy movement…. Continue reading

Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Oct 19, 2010

Storage Potential of Electric Vehicles

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/storage-potential-electric-vehicles/

One of the keys to maximizing renewable energy production (decentralized or otherwise) is providing electricity storage to smooth out variabilities in wind and solar power production. Electric vehicles have a lot of promise, as the cars could provide roving storage and dispatchable power to help match supply and demand.

So could a large number of EVs actually help with the huge variations in wind that can occur? According to Claus Ekman, a researcher at the Risø National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy in Frederiksborgvej, Denmark, it can, to an extent. Ekman recently published a paper in the journal Renewable Energy that modeled how well EVs could handle increasing wind power generation. He found that in a scenario involving 500,000 vehicles and 8 gigawatts of wind power, various strategies would reduce the excess, or lost, wind power by as much as 800 megawatts — enough to power more than 200,000 homes. Ekman calls this a “significant but not dramatic” effect on the grid. Scenarios involving 2.5 million vehicles and even more wind power show an even greater impact.

The U.S. currently has around 35 gigawatts of wind power, so it would take 2.1 million EVs to provide a similar effect in the U.S. (reducing the lost wind capacity by 10 percent of total installed capacity).

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Article filed under The Public Good | Written by David Morris | No Comments | Updated on Oct 15, 2010

Every Justice is a ‘Judicial Activist’

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/every-justice-judicial-activist/

Right-Wingers Just Don’t Like the Ones Who Don’t Agree with Them.  In 1787, writing in the Federalist Papers in support of state ratification of the Constitution, Alexander Hamilton argued that the proposed Supreme Court “will always be the least dangerous to the political rights of the constitution.” As for judicial activism, “contraventions of the will of the legislature may now and then happen; but they can never be as extensive as to affect the order of the political system.” Continue reading

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Article, Resource filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | 2 Comments | Updated on Oct 14, 2010

Energy Self-Reliant States, 2nd edition

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/energy-self-reliant-states-2nd-edition-0/

How self-sufficient in energy generation could states be if they relied only on their own renewable resources? In November 2008, ILSR began to address this question in the first edition of Energy Self-Reliant States.  That report included a limited set of resources – on-shore wind and rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) – and also examined the… Continue reading

Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Oct 13, 2010

DG Energy Provides Higher Ratepayer Value

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/dg-energy-provides-higher-ratepayer-value/

The interconnection and locational benefits of [Wholesale Distributed Generation] represent a large part of the ratepayer value for projects 20 MW and under. Because the locational benefits of distribution- connected energy in terms of ratepayer and ancillary impacts have been well- documented, the FIT Coalition strongly recommends that the [Reverse Auction Mechanism] program be limited to distribution-connected projects.

The FIT Coalition’s predecessors previously provided detailed evidence for the conclusion that distribution-connected energy provides up to 35% higher value to the ratepayer than transmission-connected energy. This value difference arises from several factors, including: avoided network construction costs, avoided line losses, and avoided congestion. Furthermore, ratepayers incur an additional cost of approximately 1.5 cents for every kWh that is stepped down from the transmission grid to the distribution grid. This Transmission Access Charge is applied across the board and is a clear and immediate benefit of interconnection renewable generation to the distribution grid.

CPUC Rulemaking 08-08-009 Comments filed September 27, 2010 Continue reading