Proponents of alternative energy were left scratching their heads last December over a report that the town council from Woodland, N.C., rejected a proposal to rezone a parcel of land to allow a proposed solar farm.
The battle between the solar industry and electric utilities has the makings of a classic David versus Goliath tale, but the debate raises legitimate questions, notably: how should regulations be updated to recognize the growth of solar while still ensuring a reliable and affordable power system? And ultimately what value do distributed solar and utilities provide to society.
Congress last month extended valuable tax credits to producers of electricity from wind turbines and solar photovoltaic panels, a move that came as a relief to an industry that has experienced rapid growth in recent years.
The EU and China together account for nearly 40 percent of global carbon emissions, and their cooperation can make an enormous difference to an effective, global response.
Why do we keep reading about unreliability as the problem with a 100-percent clean power future? The media confuses intermittency with unreliability. A full moon is intermittent -- and so are eruptions of Old Faithful. But we would not describe either of them as "unreliable."
Peripheral Vision: Climate Change and Global Development in the 21st Century (Pt. IV: Long-Tail Liberation)
Global warming poses an existential threat to life on Earth. This existential threat challenges our capabilities and calls into question the viability and effectiveness of mechanically conceived grid maintenance options.
Peripheral Vision: Climate Change and Global Development in the 21st Century (Pt. III: The Future of Solar Power)
The emergence of an acceleration ecology for distributed solar power and storage technologies indicates the approach of a tipping point that begins to spawn an independent global power "hive" that operates largely beyond the purview of the regulated electric power grid.
Going forward, the challenge facing established "financial grid" players -- commercial lending banks, investment banks, private equity firms, venture funds, and angel networks -- may not be whether they can match the growth arc of crowdfunding platforms. The financial grid itself may be at risk.
Crowdfunding, depicted graphically, resemble nothing so much as the trajectory of space vehicles obtaining escape velocity from the earth's atmosphere. But for those with boots on the ground, the impact of these trends more likely resembles displacement associated with the cracking of tectonic plates.
Communities should think about threats to our giant, centralized grid and tell utilities, "Don't just protect the grid - help us fortify our essential services with distributed generation."
This report clearly signals to me that the U.S. government clearly wants to create a substantial energy storage marketplace and is laying the groundwork to make this a reality.