This post was originally titled Residential Solar for $2.24 per Watt in Germany? The Germans are debating significant revisions to their landmark renewable energy policy, and instead of declaring the death of the German solar market, Americans should focus on why solar still costs so much on this side of the Atlantic. After a significant… Continue reading
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Community wind promises to expand the economic opportunity of transitioning the electricity system to cleaner energy, and engage local communities. Unfortunately, there’s “community wind” and community wind, as one Minnesota project starkly illustrates. Goodhue Wind was first envisioned as a “community wind” project by National Wind in 2008 as a 78 megawatt (MW) wind power… Continue reading
Update 4/23/13: EPA has updated its rankings to reflect green power as a percentage of total electricity use, accurately portraying Walmart’s paltry 4% renewable energy. While I generally have nothing but praise for the Environmental Protection Agency, their Green Power Partnership program falls short of the agency’s usual standard. In particular, the program – providing… Continue reading
What if installing more solar could reduce electricity prices? It’s already happening in Germany, world leader in solar power, and it’s likely to happen in the U.S., too. Continue reading
Updated 2/1/12 because I underestimated how the tiered pricing worked. Thanks to bkarney at Renewable Energy World for the comment. Last week I wrote about the time-of-use pricing scheme that PG&E offers in San Francisco, and how solar power is worth 14% more compared to a standard flat-rate electricity plan. In reality, it’s 36% or… Continue reading
With state enabling legislation, cities and counties are being given the authority to establish municipal financing programs for clean energy and energy efficiency investments in their communities. Commonly referred to as property assessed clean energy (PACE) financing, it allows homeowners and businesses to implement dramatic improvements in efficiency and/or renewable energy and repay those investments over a long-term via a special property tax assessment or via a utility bill. Continue reading
I just came across an interesting interview that radio host Diane Rehm did with Jeremy Rifkin, author of The Third Industrial Revolution. The excerpts below lay out his vision for an energy future that is decentralized and democratized. (He also notes that this vision has just emerged in the past two to four years, but we’ve been around since 1974…).
The book is organized around five pillars of the third industrial revolution:
Pillar one, renewable energy. Pillar two, your buildings become your own power plants. Pillar three, you have to store it with hydrogen. And then Pillar four…the internet communication revolution completely merges with new distributing energies to create a nervous system…Pillar five is electric plug-in transport…
when distributed Internet communication starts to organize distributed energies, we have a very powerful third industrial revolution that could change everything…
You can find some renewable energy in every square inch of the world. So how do we collect them? … If renewable energies are found in every square inch of the world in some frequency or proportion, why would we only collect them in a few central points? …
[it] jump starts the European economy, that’s the idea. Millions and millions and millions of jobs. Thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises have to convert 190 million buildings to power plants over the next 40 years…
That’s the vision: a decentralized energy system can be democratized with local ownership, spreading the production of energy and the economic benefits as widely as the renewable energy resource itself.
Conducted by market research institute Forsa on behalf of municipal utilities in Germany, the survey found that 61 percent of Germans are willing to pay more for their power if the extra cost helps ramp up the share of renewables. Public acceptance even extends to acceptance of wind turbines “in my backyard”; 54 percent of those surveyed said they would find it “good” or “very good” if a wind turbine were set up nearby.
That’s the German feed-in tariff at work…
In this Nov. 20 interview with Baruch on his WKBM Paradigms program, we talked about: The coming decentralization of the electricity system The folly of a building inherently decentralized technology (wind and solar) in a centralized fashion The benefits for local ownership of a decentralized system How limited economies of scale for solar and wind… Continue reading
In this short interview on KGNU’s science show – How on Earth– with Tom McKinnon, we talk about: the problems presented for local ownership of energy resources when federal incentives use the tax code, the trouble for clean energy when it’s reliant on Wall Street, how Boulder, CO, may accomplish something remarkable with its vote… Continue reading