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Hidden in plain sight: EIA highlights massive swing to renewables June 27, 2014

Posted by Maury Markowitz in power grid, solar.
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For many years the gold standard in energy reporting in the US has been the various EIA reports. Over the last five years though, it was clear something was going wrong. Renewables were part of the reports but always listed at high costs and low adoption rates. The numbers weren’t wrong, just outdated, as if you were reading a report from three years ago.

And this month’s report drives that home; the EIA has been predicting slow uptake of various renewables for some time now, and long predicted that it would reach about 13.5% of the electrical mix around 2040. However, the latest report, covering the first third of 2014, shows that renewables covered 14.04% of the electrical mix.

Wow.

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Won’t anyone think of the seniors!? April 30, 2014

Posted by Maury Markowitz in power grid, solar.
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Image of people pulling out their hair due to their bills

No trip to Florida this year, dear. Damn those solar panels!

It came as no great surprise to learn that recent anti-solar ads being played in the US were funded by the power companies.

Only slightly more surprising was how the money turned into a TV spot, via the Koch brothers’ “Americans For Prosperity“.

What really interests me about all of this is that I’ve had people quote the argument from this TV spot to me. In spite of the argument being made up, it’s getting repeated, and defended, in that great marketplace of ideas. It’s astonishing to see it regurgitated without giving it a second thought.

So let’s give it a second thought.

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Widespread grid parity is here February 11, 2014

Posted by Maury Markowitz in power grid, solar.
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I’ve posted on the concept of “grid parity” in the past.

Basically the concept is that if the interest payments on your panels are less than what you’d pay to the power company for the same amount of power, you’re at  parity.

The industry has long been predicting that we would hit parity at some point. Most of them suggested this would happen around 2020. It came early.

We are clearly at grid parity for most of Canada today. And that means it’s also true anywhere south of us, and most of Europe.

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Wind power works August 31, 2012

Posted by Maury Markowitz in power grid.
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Just a quick note…

A peer-reviewed report out of the UK demonstrates that wind can supply a major portion of their power supply, and all the negative concerns are, quite simply, not true. The report concluded:

“unequivocally that wind power can significantly reduce carbon emissions, is reliable, poses no threat to energy security and is technically capable of providing a significant proportion of the UK’s electricity with minimal impact on the existing operation of the grid”

And further…

“Claims to the contrary are not supported by the evidence”

In spite of this report, and many like it, I’m sure it will have no effect on the debate anywhere else. After all, the wind in the UK is made up of different molecules than it is here, right?

Read all about it: Wind power study says opponents’ claims are unfounded.

Energy savings actually save energy August 16, 2012

Posted by Maury Markowitz in power grid.
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For the last couple of years, with increasing frequency, I’ve been hearing about something called “the rebound effect“.

The rebound is, supposedly, something that happens when people do a good thing… then they do more “bad” things that offset all the good. So if you take up jogging, you feel good about your health, so you eat an extra donut. Or when you put in energy-saving appliances, you feel good about that, so you leave the TV turned on longer and end up using more electricity.

I’ve always been suspicious of these claims, they sound too simple to be true. Most joggers I know are in better shape than I am! But I never had a smoking gun, nor the time to look into it too much. Well that’s over. I was listening to The Agenda in the Summer and I heard someone repeat a whole list of these stories, which included a new one…

Buy a hybrid car and you drive longer distances.

*sigh* Game on…

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The tangible intangibles July 20, 2012

Posted by Maury Markowitz in power grid, solar.
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One of the oft-used arguments by the renewables industry, and especially solar PV, is that there are all sorts of spin-off benefits you get by distributing your generation. For instance, if everyone generates their own power and just passes it around the block, you don’t need to build out as much long-distance power transmission. But how much are these effects really worth? That’s where the hand-waving begins…

No longer. In the wonderfully titled “Technical Potential for Local Distributed Photovoltaics in California: Preliminary Assessment“, the California Public Utilities Commission has figured all of this out. Generally, its good news all around.

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