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Posts from the ‘Solar Power’ Category

What Value Should We Place on Our Future?

Courtesy of the Old Marlovian

Courtesy of the Old Marlovian

By: Alexandra Czastkiewicz

October 2013

The social cost of carbon might not be a conversation that comes up at the dinner table, but realize it or not the implications of global climate change are far reaching and daunting. How important is the fate of the future generation? When your children grow up, what kind of world do you want them to experience? Putting a numeric value on the future is difficult, but it must be done if we are to change the direction of our energy future, and introduce cleaner energy technologies that produce less harmful pollution and emissions.

Coal is perceived as a more economic energy source then many renewable technologies. The Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences recently published an article about the implications of modernizing our electricity systems. The US government needs an official cost estimate associated with the production of CO2 from fossil fuels. According to report, without counting pollution and carbon emissions, coal, on average, costs 3.0 cents/kWh versus wind energy (8.0 cents/kWh) or photovoltaics (13.3 cents/kWh) (Johnson et al. 2013). The government is now trying to take into account the environmental costs of using fossil fuels such as coal or natural gas. This includes adding a cost of potential damages caused by the emission of CO2 into the atmosphere. These potential and already realized costs include damages and deaths incurred from drought, floods, heat waves, hurricanes and other natural phenomenon that have been exacerbated given human induced climate change. Additionally, the social cost of carbon has serious public safety and health implications. Increased pollution has led to increases in asthma, water contamination, and rises in climate sensitive diseases. Every day our health and wellbeing are being compromised and if we do not change our current energy practices, and it will only continue to worsen for our futures. Read more

The “Dazzling Dozen” Lead the Way in Solar Installation

Cover page of Environment America Research and Policy Center's Report "Lighting the Way: What We can Learn from America's Top Twelve Solar States." Picture of a solar panel array with a partially cloudy sky and the sun.

The “Dazzling Dozen” is not just a clever name for the twelve states that are leading the way in solar photovoltaic installations; they are an example to be followed in the move from fossil fuels towards a renewable energy utility of the future. On July 23rd, 2013, Environment America Research and Policy Center released a report, “Lighting the Way: What We Can Learn from America’s Top 12 Solar States,” describing the benefits of solar energy and some of the related policies.

The Dazzling Dozen are ranked by the highest per capita solar electricity capacity, and include the states of Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, New Jersey, New Mexico, California, Delaware, Colorado, Vermont, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Maryland. Arizona ranked first, producing 167 Watts per person of solar electricity, while Colorado ranked eighth, producing 52 Watts per person. These twelve states account for only 28% of the population, but 85% of installed solar photovoltaic systems in the United States. Read more

“Renewable Electricity Futures Study: Exploration of High-Penetration Renewable Electricity Futures”

Released in July, 2012, NREL’s Renewable Electricity Futures Study is the most comprehensive analysis of potential high-penetration of renewable electricity in the U.S. that CEA has heard of to date. The RE Futures Study showed that by 2050 the U.S. electric grid could be powered with 80% renewable energy using resources and technologies that are available today, if combined with increased flexibility of our electricity system. The RE Futures analysis found no insurmountable long-term “constraints to renewable electricity technology manufacturing capacity, materials supply, or labor availability.”

U.S. renewable energy resources were sufficiently abundant and diverse to yield significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and water use when combined for electricity production. Further, all regions of the country could contribute local renewable resources to the country’s renewable electricity supply. Interactive windows, RE Futures Visualizations,” give readers graphic U. S. map views of analysis results. For further reading on potential development of regional renewable resources see “U.S. Renewable Energy Technical Potentials: A GIS-Based Analysis.”

As part of the RE Futures analysis process, more than two dozen renewable energy scenarios were modeled in order to explore the challenges and opportunities of U.S. integration of high levels of renewable electric.

While the report steered clear of making recommendations and predictions for future transformation of the US electric system, a diverse suite of possible supply- and demand-side strategies for every part of the grid, “from system planning through operation,” was identified.

The RE Futures Study was the product of collaboration of more than 110 contributors, experts in renewable technologies, grid integration, and “end-use demand.” The team included a leadership core with members from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and others.