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Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Mar 28, 2011

Grid on Hawaiian Island of Oahu Can Handle 25% Wind and Solar

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/grid-hawaiian-island-oahu-can-handle-25-wind-and-solar/

A new study released in February adds evidence that utility grids can handle high levels of renewable energy penetration.  The latest study examined adding 500 MW of wind to the electric grid on the Hawaiian island of Oahu (home to Honolulu).  The result would be a grid with 25% of the energy coming from wind and solar power.

Results of this study suggest that 400 MW of off-island wind energy and 100 MW of on-island wind energy can be integrated into the Oahu electrical system while maintaining system reliability. Integrating this wind energy, along with 100 MW of solar PV, will eliminate the need to burn approximately 2.8 million barrels of low sulfur fuel oil and 132,000 tons of coal each year. The combined supply from the wind and solar PV plants will comprise just over 25% of Oahu’s projected electricity demand. [emphasis added]

By its nature, the wind and solar power will be largely distributed generation, although much of the wind power reaching Oahu would arrive via undersea transmission.  Regardless, it’s a promising opportunity for Hawaiian energy self-reliance.

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Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Mar 28, 2011

Colorado Solar Permitting Fees May Fall With New Legislation

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/colorado-solar-permitting-fees-may-fall-new-legislation/

A few weeks ago we posted on the adverse impact of solar permitting fees on residential and other small-scale distributed solar PV projects.  Vote solar provides an update and progress in Colorado:

Vote Solar recently teamed up with COSEIA to collect and evaluate the current state of [solar] permitting in 34 local jurisdictions throughout the state.  Survey says? In practice, solar permitting requirements vary widely from one jurisdiction to the next due to different permitting plan review processes and other extraneous fees. This has resulted in piecemeal local permitting practices that are often costly, complex, non-transparent and time-intensive. The process is arduous for solar installers and increases costs to consumers. Among the 34 cities and counties surveyed, Breckenridge, Colorado Springs, and Denver are doing permits on the fast and cheap. On the slower, more expensive end are Arapahoe County, Aurora and Commerce City…

The findings reinforce the need for Colorado’s juridications to adopt standardized, streamlined solar permitting practices. The Colorado Fair Permit Act (HB 11-1199) has passed out of the House on a 64-1 vote and now moves on to the Senate. Stay tuned!

Solar permitting remains a looming cost barrier to distributed solar, so it’s great to see that Vote Solar’s Project:Permit is gaining traction.

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Article, Resource filed under Broadband | Written by admin | No Comments | Updated on Mar 27, 2011

Community Broadband, A Level Playing Field?

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/community-broadband-a-level-playing-field/

Communities pursuing their own broadband network are met with accusations from massive incumbent telephone and cable companies saying that it is not fair for local governments to compete against the private sector. Continue reading

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Article, Resource filed under Broadband | Written by admin | No Comments | Updated on Mar 27, 2011

iProvo for Dummies

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

Jesse Harris, of the Free UTOPIA blog, gave a presentation explaining broadband network concepts and definitions without technical jargon. Continue reading

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Article, Resource filed under Broadband | Written by admin | No Comments | Updated on Mar 27, 2011

Sascha Meinrath on Broadband

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

A short video of Sascha Meinrath discussing the power of community networks, the need for broadband competition, and why the National Broadband Plan misses the mark. Continue reading

Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Mar 25, 2011

UK Solar Incentive Cuts May Also Distribute Solar Rewards More Widely

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/uk-solar-incentive-cuts-may-also-distribute-solar-rewards-more-widely/

A proposed revision to the United Kingdom’s feed-in tariff program may have created an uproar, but it may also help spread the economic benefits of solar more widely. 

The proposed changes, announced last week, would reduce solar payments for large solar projects (50 kilowatts and larger) by 50 percent or more, but leave payments for smaller projects largely intact.  The following tables illustrate:

Old Tariffs Price paid per kilowatt-hour
GBP USD Size
£0.41 $0.66 < 4kW retrofit
£0.36 $0.58 4 to 10 kW or <4 kW new build
£0.31 $0.51 10 to 100 kW
£0.29 $0.47 100 kW to 5 MW
 
New Tariffs Price paid per kilowatt-hour
GBP USD Size
£0.41 $0.66 < 4kW retrofit
£0.36 $0.58 4 to 10 kW or <4 kW new build
£0.31 $0.51 10 to 50 kW?
£0.19 $0.31 50 to 150 kW
£0.15 $0.24 150 to 250 kW
£0.09 $0.14 250 kW to 5 MW

The new tariffs will help redistribute more of the feed-in tariff (FIT) program revenue to smaller projects.  The most likely manner is simply by giving less money per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to the large projects, leaving more for the small projects.  The following charts will illustrate. 

Let’s assume that under the old FIT scheme, each project size tranche provided 25% of the solar PV projects under the program (see pie chart).

However, since a 2 MW project produces many more kWh than a 3 kW project, the revenues will skew heavily toward the larger projects.  For the sake of simplicity, I assumed that the midpoint of each size tranche was a representative project and that they all produced the same kWh per kilowatt of capacity. 

The revenue distribution can be seen in the second pie chart:

Essentially, all the FIT Program revenue was going to the largest projects.  Even if three-quarters of projects were under 4 kW, they would still only represent 3 percent of program revenue, with 93 percent accruing to the projects over 100 kW.

Under the new FIT scheme, the prices paid to larger solar PV projects are sharply reduced. With projects evenly distributed between the now six size tranches, much less of the program revenue goes to large projects.

The projects under 100 kW have roughly tripled their share, from 3 percent to 10 percent of revenues. 

Of course, the lower prices for large solar projects could have another impact: killing large solar projects completely.  Let’s assume that the new prices for projects over 50 kW (that experienced the steepest revenue decline) are simply too low and that all development ceases. 

The first pie chart shows the project allocation in the FIT program without any projects over 50 kW.  As described, we have an even distribution (# of projects) between the smallest three size categories, and no projects 50 kW or above.

The next chart shows the revenue allocation of the FIT program under this assumption.  Now, nearly 30 percent of program revenue accrues to projects 10 kW and smaller. 

If we assume that instead of an even allocation of projects, we have an even allocation of capacity between the size tranches (e.g. 30 MW, 30 MW, 30 MW), then the revenues would be split evenly between the remaining size categories and two-thirds of the solar FIT program would be flowing to solar projects 10 kW and smaller.

While it’s unlikely that the government plans to eliminate the large solar PV market with its price revisions, the overall effect is likely to be a transfer of program revenues to smaller projects.  The advantage in this strategy is that these revenues will be spread over a much larger number of projects and project owners, creating a larger constituency for supporting solar power and solar power policies.

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