ILSR vice president, David Morris, responds to Al Gore’s recent speech proposing a 10 year effort to move the United States to a 100% renewable energy electric system to address three major crises: the weak economy, catastrophic climate change and the dire national security problems inherent in our dependence on imported oil. Morris says that Gore got got two out of three right. Continue reading
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This August 2008 report by David Morris and John Farrell was sponsored by the Ford Foundation. The next 20 years could generate as much as $1 trillion in new renewable energy investment in rural America. The report is a policy roadmap for states and the federal government that would redesignpolicies to encourage a highly decentralized and dispersed renewable energy industry that is significantly locally owned. Doing so would multiply the number of rural areas that benefit from burgeoning renewable energy industries, and would create a sustainable asset whose wealth and revenue will largely remain in revived local communities and regions.
Updating our pathbreaking 2003 report, this June 2008 report by David Morris describes how commercially available technologies today could transform our petroleum powered transportation system into one powered by electricity and biofuels. Provisions in the recently passed Energy Act could accelerate that transformation. With the adoption of complementary policies, the revolution in our transportation sector can generate an equally profound revolution in our electricity sector. Hundreds of thousands of locally owned wind turbines and solar electric arrays supplying flexible fueled, plug-in hybrid vehicles can allow tens of millions of Americans to become energy producers not just energy consumers.
Can residential rooftop solar compete with new utility-scale concentrating solar electric plants? Only if federal and state incentives are amended to level the playing field. This May 2008 report explores the economics of solar PV and concentrating solar and shows how local ownership is hindered unless government solar incentives change.
Large, remote concentrating solar power systems are the new darlings of the solar industry. Some observers now see centralized, not decentralized solar as the future. But a new report by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance reveals that the economic advantage of centralized solar and absentee owned solar arrays rests on federal tax incentives that discriminate against locally owned, decentralized solar arrays.
John Farrell, the report’s author and a strong voice in the energy community, calls for Congress to change federal tax incentives to give equal benefits to residential solar arrays, instead of favoring commercial and centralized projects.
Today, cellulosic ethanol can no longer be ignored. Even as the quantity of ethanol from corn increases, the age of corn ethanol is drawing to a close. Few new corn-to-ethanol plants will be built beyond those currently in the ?nancing and construction pipeline. The opportunity to build on the farmer-owned corn-to-ethanol biore?nery model is over. But the opportunity for local ownership is just beginning for cellulosic biofuels. This piece by David Morris was originally published in Ethanol Today magazine. Continue reading
An energy incentive is drifting in the wind Federal tax law discourages individual investment and local ownership of turbines. By John Farrell, originally published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, May 1, 2008 A wind turbine can power up to 600 homes, but 600 homeowners can’t get together to own a wind turbine. Why? Because federal… Continue reading
A wind turbine can power up to 600 homes, but 600 homeowners can’t get together to own a wind turbine. Why? Because federal law makes local ownership virtually impossible. The federal wind-energy incentives — up for renewal this year — discriminate against local ownership and favor absentee ownership. They also severely restrict the number of investors who can finance wind-energy generators.
A debate between advocates of distributed and centralized renewable energy systems is just beginning. It is overdue. Consideration of scale in renewable energy systems has been delayed in part because we first had to bring solar energy in all its forms to market, and in part because the distributed nature of renewable energy resources seemed inexorably to lead to their being harnessed in distributed fashion.