In discussions on the merits of distributed solar power too little focus has been given to the many important benefits that result from increasing the use of distributed solar power. These benefits accrue to both the utilities and presumably their rate payers as well and to society (and the tax payers) at large. This post summarizes a recent paper “Solar Power Generation in the US: Too expensive, or a bargain?” that attempts to give these benefits a tangible quantified value in order that the debate on the merits of solar power also begin to include this side of the cost / benefit analysis. A side that is all too often glossed over and largely overlooked.
This post asks the provocative question whether solar PV is really market ready yet. It goes on to suggest that it might be counter-productive for the long term growth of the sector to push solar photovoltaic adoption rates through the use of government subsidies, making the point that this may in fact be slowing down the adoption of needed innovation and process improvement that should ultimately make renewable energy more affordable.
While other parts of the world are busy actually building national Ultra High Voltage (UHV) transmission infrastructure the US continues to do noting more substantial than litigate. A UHV super grid would be able to move renewable energy from where it is abundant to where people live and work, and do so at an economic cost. This kind of national electric energy infrastructure would enable solar, wind, hydro and geothermal generated electric power to reach market. It is a critical piece of the kind of future energy infrastructure we will need in order to continue to prosper. John goes into a lot of detail and provides numerous links to examples and more in depth reading on this very important subject.
The DOE’s “SunShot” initiative which is modeled after the highly successful Apollo moon shot program aims to spur innovations and rationalizations that will together slash the total system cost of solar photovoltaic systems by three quarters within this decade. If it manages to achieve these goals then solar PV would become cost competitive with other […]
Streamlining the building code process for solar installation could help rooftop solar reach price parity with the average price for electric power on the grid. This key price point is also known as grid parity. Permitting costs will add $1 billion to the price structure of solar over the next five years. This article poses the following question: With widely adopted standardization of best practices in solar system construction/installation in place and the 10-20 years of performance certification on actual operating systems in the field, why then is the permitting process stuck in time and why is solar treated as if it were still an experimental niche rarity that needed to prove itself before the building code bureaucrats can give it their thumbs up.
Department of Energy (DOE) secretary Steven Chu announces $50 million in funding for solar energy grid parity demonstration program for innovative solar technologies leading to cost-competitive solar energy that helps solar reach this important milestone.
Suntech CEO, Zhengrong Shi, a prime mover in helping to turn China into a global force in photovoltaic technology, has been a major influence in bringing China’s solar PV cost structure down and making China a powerhouse in photovoltaic technology–and became a billionaire in the process. Shi’s ambition is to make solar power as cheap as conventional electricity.
It appears that Google is getting ever deeper into the sun business. Stating that it is dissatisfied with the general lack of progress on achieving breakthroughs in green technology, the company wants to build better highly reflective and rugged mirrors — as well as the mirror substrate that the reflective surface is mounted on. By reflecting more light and more of the solar spectrum than ordinary mirrors these mirrors have the potential to reduce the cost of solar thermal systems by up to 25 per cent.
The sun can help coal fired power plants burn less coal by pre-heating the water used to make high pressure high temperature steam during periods when the sun is shining. In other words the sun would do part of the work of producing high pressure/ high temperature steam and in this manner the overall hybrid solar/coal power plant would use less coal than a coal only power plant would need to produce the same amount of electric power.