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Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Oct 3, 2011

State Wind Energy Potential

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/state-wind-energy-potential/

At least 32 states can get 25% or more of their electricity from wind power within their own borders.  This map is updated from our 2010 report and namesake, Energy Self-Reliant States.  Click here for a larger version.

The only updated figure is Maryland, due to a new report on its offshore wind potential.

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Article filed under The Public Good, The Public Good News | Written by David Morris | 7 Comments | Updated on Sep 28, 2011

The Case For The Post Office

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/the-post-office-past-present-and-future/

In the next few days we may decide the future of the Post Office.  The signs are not auspicious.  President Obama has agreed to a plan to cut Saturday delivery. The Post Service’s management wants to close 2500 post offices immediately and up to 16,000 by 2020.  Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) has introduced a bill… Continue reading

Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Sep 28, 2011

Keeping Energy Dollars in Minnesota

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/keeping-energy-dollars-minnesota/

I gave a presentation last night to a public forum hosted by Think Again MN on maximizing the economic returns from the state’s clean energy resources.  I was joined by Lynn Hinkle of the Minnesota Solar Energy Industries Association (and former union labor representative) and George Crocker from the North American Water Office (and passionate community organizer).  The whole video is below, with my presentation starting around 24:00.

To view just the slide show of my presentation, click below:

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Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Sep 26, 2011

The Value and Power of Distributed Solar in Arizona

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/value-and-power-distributed-solar-arizona/

A presentation I gave last Friday to the Arizona Corporation Commission.

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Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Sep 23, 2011

California Saves Money for Classrooms with Solar for Schools

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/california-saves-money-classrooms-solar-schools/

We previously examined how some schools are going solar, with a particular focus on the federal tax incentives. Click here for our December 2010 analysis. Continue reading

Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Sep 23, 2011

California Governor to Western Grid: No Imports of Renewable Energy Needed

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/california-governor-western-grid-no-imports-renewable-energy-needed/

Western grid operators have been making plans for large-scale renewable energy imports into the California electricity market, prompting the governor’s Senior Advisor for Renewable Energy Facilities to write a “self-reliance” response.

Here are a few highlights of his letter to the Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC):

California has plenty of in-state development: “The California Independent System Operator indicates that renewable projects totaling 70,000 MW of installed capacity [nearly enough to meet all of the state’s peak summer demand] are seeking to connect to the CAISO-managed grid.”

Transmission costs are up, waaay up.  In particular, “the developer of at least one significant line, TransWest Express, expects the project to cost about 70 percent more than WECC’s original assumptions…we thus appreciate the ongoing efforts of WECC staff to review these and other assumptions and to revise capital cost assumptions upward.”

Transmission line risks: “transmission lines proposed to stretch hundreds of miles over private and public lands face significant permitting and development risk – perhaps most so in the case of DC lines, which offer few electrical benefits to the states they cross.”

In summary, California has a robust in-state market for renewable energy and sufficient in-state renewable resources to serve its entire electricity needs, so Western states would do well to temper their export optimism.

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Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Sep 20, 2011

Graphics from the report: Democratizing the Electricity System

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/graphics-from-the-report-democratizing-the-electricity-system/

Update 9/20/11: Graphics marked with an * have been updated since the report’s release This page contains all of the charts, maps, and graphics from the new report, Democratizing the Electricity System: A Vision for the 21st Century Electric Grid. The graphics are in order of appearance in the main body of the report.  Charts… Continue reading

Raptor jet
Article filed under The Public Good, The Public Good News | Written by David Morris | No Comments | Updated on Sep 17, 2011

The Military and the Commons

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/the-military-and-the-commons/

A few days ago I received notice of a New America Foundation (NAF) hosted conference in Washington, D.C. called “Beyond Primacy:  Rethinking American Grand Strategy and the Command of the Commons.”    At the conference NAF released a formal report on the subject: Whither Command of the Commons?  Choosing Security Over Control. The authors, Sameer Lalwani,… Continue reading

Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | 2 Comments | Updated on Sep 15, 2011

Solar PV Economies of Scale Improve in 2010

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/solar-pv-economies-scale-improve-2010/

Installed costs for solar PV have dropped and economies of scale improved significantly in 2010, opening the door for much more cost-competitive distributed solar power. 

The data comes from the 4th edition of the excellent report from the Lawrence Berkeley Labs’, Tracking the Sun (pdf) and shows the installed costs for behind-the-meter solar PV projects in 2010.  The following merely copies Figure 11 from that report, showing the average installed cost of “behind-the-meter” solar projects in the U.S. in 2010, by project size.

This is useful and shows the significant economies of scale for solar PV in 2010, but the history is important.  For context, the following chart shows the 2010 data along with the 2009 data from Lawrence Berkeley Labs, with the grey shaded area indicating the cost decreases.  The 2010 installed cost data from the California Solar Initiative (red) is also shown, helping validate the LBNL data.  The last data point from the CSI is an outlier likely due to having too few projects in that dataset.

Two things are clear from the new data.  First, installed costs have dropped significantly, by $1 per Watt for residential-scale solar PV and by nearly $2 per Watt for megawatt-scale projects.  We can also see more clearly how the economies of scale of solar have improved, as well.

The unit cost savings between the smallest and largest solar projects (1 MW and under) jumped from $2.80 to $4.60 per Watt, a change in relative savings from 30 percent to 47 percent.  Economies of scale were also much greater for mid-size solar (30-100 kW), with the percentage savings over the smallest projects rising from 21 to 35 percent.   The following chart illustrates the change in economies of scale, showing installed costs as a percentage of the cost of a 2 kW system.

Instead of having relatively little economies of scale for solar PV projects larger than 2 kW, the 2010 data confirms that the unit cost of solar does continue to fall significantly as solar projects grow up to 1 megwatt (MW) in size.

Unfortunately, LBNL did not have sufficient data to provide context for economies of scale for larger distributed solar projects (1 to 20 MW), with only about 20 datapoints.  However, their finding was that these larger crystalline solar projects cost between $4 and $5 per Watt, showing small but significant scale economies.

The lesson is that solar economies of scale seem to be improving as the U.S. market matures, good news for distributed solar to compete with peak electricity prices on the grid.

[note: for more context, see the previous post on 2009 solar economies of scale]

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Featured Article filed under Banking | Written by Stacy Mitchell | 1 Comment | Updated on Sep 15, 2011

How State Banks Bring the Money Home

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/how-state-banks-bring-money-home/

One of the most significant consequences of the consolidation of banking over the last decade is how much it has hindered the economy’s ability to create jobs. There’s no single solution to this problem, but one of the most promising strategies involves creating state-owned banks that can bolster the lending capacity of local banks, helping them grow and multiply. Continue reading