Exploring Hydrocarbon Depletion
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davep wrote:But local generation in rural areas can also help the grid, as they tend to be at the end of the line where it is too expensive to improve infrastructure. Local generation into the grid can be very useful.
California Renewable Energy Forecast Just Keeps Getting Brighter
July 29, 2012 By Silvio Marcacci
The forecast for renewable energy in California, already America’s strongest solar market, just keeps getting brighter.
Renewable energy represented 20.6 percent of the electricity mix from the state’s three biggest utilities at the end of 2011, up from 17 percent in 2010. While slightly off the 20 percent renewables by 2010 goal set in 2002, the jump suggests the state may reach its ambitious 33 percent by 2020 renewable portfolio standard.
But a wider look at the state reveals it’s not just the state’s big three utilities that are boosting renewables. A new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists found that the thirteen biggest utilities in California, representing 87 percent of all retail electricity sold in the state, generated 30 percent of their electricity from renewables and large-scale hydropower in 2010.
While renewables are growing fast across California, solar power is set to
grow exponentially in the Golden State. PG&E, the state’s largest utility expects solar to jump from one percent of its total renewable portfolio to a staggering 40 percent by 2020.
prajeshbhat wrote:Solar panels are great, but people will have to learn to make do with a lot less KWhs. Reducing your energy consumption from 30 KWh a day to 5 KWh a day.
Outcast_Searcher wrote:prajeshbhat wrote:Solar panels are great, but people will have to learn to make do with a lot less KWhs. Reducing your energy consumption from 30 KWh a day to 5 KWh a day.
I noticed Graeme's post proclaiming 4000W systems for "only $10,000". Well, that's nice, but I'm installing a whole-house generator to prevent long outage problems from ice storms, flooded basements, etc. I'm getting a 20,000W system for well under $10,000 installed.
And guess what? I will have to watch what I run simultaneously, or I could max out the generator and shut it down. Microwaves, hair dryers, air conditioners, stoves, and even lots of light bulbs use a significant amount of power.
So, unless you want to spend more like $80,000 to $100,000 to power that McMansion most people so strongly desire -- citing a $10,000 system is a fraud.
The solar market, while relatively young, is an increasingly important part of the American economy. My latest IREC report answers important questions about the solar market. What are the trends in the market, and what forces are at work? Which sectors of the market are strongest, and why? What are the prospects for solar energy in the near future?
1. Photovoltaic markets are growing quickly
Last year was another banner year for solar, with large increases in both the number and average size of photovoltaic (PV) installations. The capacity of PV installations in 2011 more than doubled, compared with 2010 installations. More utility-scale systems and an increase in the average system size accounted for this dramatic growth. The total capacity of utility and nonresidential systems installed in 2011 increased by 145% and 132% respectively compared with 2010. The average size of all PV installations grew 64% in 2011, to 29 kWDC.
2. Installations are concentrated in a few states
In 2011, more than two-thirds of grid-connected PV system installations were concentrated in California, New Jersey, Arizona and New Mexico, as shown. Of the top 10 states, Arizona had the highest growth, with more than 4.5 times as many installations as the year before. The market more than tripled in New Mexico and New York, and more than doubled in California, New Jersey and Hawaii. On a per capita basis, six states — Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, New Jersey and New Mexico — had more installations than California in 2011, demonstrating how the market is diversifying across the country.
3. Utility-sector PV installations more than doubled in 2011 compared to 2010
The utility sector’s share of all U.S. grid-connected PV installations grew from virtually none in 2006 to 15% in 2009, to 32% in 2010, and to 38% in 2011. Of the 10 largest PV installations in the United States, five were installed in 2011. The two largest U.S. PV installations installed in 2011 were the 49-megawatt DC (MWDC) Mesquite Solar 1 Plant in Arlington, Ariz., which supplies power to Pacific Gas and Electric Co. customers in northern California, and the 35-MWDC plant in Webberville, Texas, which supplies power to Austin Energy.
4. The average size of non-residential distributed installations is increasing
The capacity of non-residential sector installations, like government buildings, retail stores, warehouses, and military installations, more than doubled in 2011 compared to 2010. The average size of a non-residential distributed installation grew by an astounding 46%. The largest installations to date in this sector were a 9-MWDC installation at Gloucester Marine Terminal in Gloucester City, N.J., and a 6-MWDC installation at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Favorable economics for consumers and a rush to complete installations before the expiration of the Treasury 1603 Grant program at the end of 2011 fueled this explosive growth.
On August 15, 2012, at 8 a.m., Colorado’s Xcel utility opened up its registration for a new solar gardens/virtual net metering program. It took just 30 minutes to shut the doors on applications. The utility had received 13.5 MW in those 30 minutes, more than triple the 4.5 MW allowed. This excitement is one reason why I believe that community solar is the key to widespread U.S. solar adoption, but let's go through all of them...plus the challenges to it ever happening.
Right now there are relatively few solar gardens/net metering/community solar programs in the United States. The most notable and successful ones are in Sacramento via the SMUD, as well as an earlier solar gardens program in Colorado. Currently, California law allows for community solar on site, limiting roof space on buildings. However, a new bill, SB 843, will allow off-site solar virtual net metering, a.k.a. community solar.
Another reason why I'm bullish on widespread community solar is Solar Mosaic, a new company that allows individuals to invest in solar through a Solar PPA model. Here, instead of a utility bill directly benefiting from the watts, a consumer invests in a large solar PPA project and basically becomes an equity partner, earning an ROI.
In the two models above, roof or property ownership is not required, so renters and tree-lined-street lovers can enjoy solar benefits and savings. Also, because the actual solar installation is off-site, perfect insolation, roof age, home-owner vanity, and belligerent home owner associations are no longer in the way of sales. In addition, unlike physical PV, these panels can virtually follow you to a new residence, though typically within the same utility area.
IREC’s 2011 Solar Market Trends Report found that the U.S. saw 1.8 gigawatts of grid-connected solar power, consisting of 64,000 new solar installations across the U.S. The growth was most dramatic among utilities, which grew 145 percent and non-residential systems, which grew 132 percent over 2010. The annual report also found that residential solar grew at a rate of 24 percent. And it anticipates that solar installations will grow at an even faster pace in 2012.
The U.S. Energy Department announced it would work with national researchers to help develop advanced solar power technologies.
U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said there's been "explosive" growth in the international solar energy market.
"American companies are helping to lead this dramatic progress, driving lower costs and introducing new, better performing technologies into the marketplace," he said in a statement.
The Energy Department said a $2.6 million investment would fund research programs that help advance solar energy performance and decrease associated costs.
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