Supporting Family Farming in the Age of Monopoly with Joe Maxwell (Episode 33)

Date: 16 Nov 2017 | posted in: agriculture, Building Local Power | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

Joe Maxwell of the Organization for Competitive Markets details how our economy is tilted against family farms and rural communities, and how he’s working to build a political movement to change that.… Read More

Farmworkers of the World — Unite!

This article was originally published in our The Public Good: Reports from the Front Lines (October 26, 2017), available here. Florida produces 90 percent of our winter tomatoes. The Immokalee region in southwestern Florida grows one-third of all U.S. tomatoes. The plight of farmworkers in the … Read More

This Ag Economist Preached Bigger is Better. Now He Says the Evidence Favors Small Farms. (Episode 32)

Date: 2 Nov 2017 | posted in: agriculture, Building Local Power, Podcast | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

John Ikerd, an agricultural economist, sits down with Stacy Mitchell to discuss the consolidation of our food system and why he supports family farms as opposed to corporate mega-farms.… Read More

Some Skepticism on Solar Thermal Power’s Storage Potential

Date: 3 Jan 2012 | posted in: Energy, Energy Self Reliant States | 2 Facebooktwitterredditmail

Yesterday New York Times reporter Matt Wald had a piece on the role of energy storage in supporting the expansion of renewable energy.  However, his specific focus on solar thermal power generation overlooks the potentially high costs of relying on … Read More

State Energy Self-Reliance Potential

Date: 3 May 2011 | posted in: Energy, Energy Self Reliant States | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

The following map was the headline graphic to our 2009 report, Energy Self-Reliant States, the report that inspired this blog.  I re-created the map for web viewing, so it’s now even easier to share how each state can meet its electricity consumption with in-state renewable energy resources. 

The renewable resources considered include on- and off-shore wind, rooftop solar PV, hydro, combined heat and power, and high-temperature geothermal.  Read the Energy Self-Reliant States report for more details.

Click the image for a larger version or here for an interactive one.

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U.S. Military Sees Great Value in Distributed Renewable Energy

Date: 22 Dec 2010 | posted in: Energy, Energy Self Reliant States | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

There’s no better illustration of the value of distributed renewable energy than the U.S. military.  In Iraq, the 50,000 U.S. troops (as of August 2010) use 600 million gallons of fuel per year at a cost of dozens of lives of U.S. soldiers who die protecting fuel convoys and financial cost of nearly $27 billion for fuel and security ($45 per gallon!).  New distributed renewable energy systems can help combat brigades reduce fuel consumption, saving lives and money.

One Marine company – Company I, Third Battalion, Fifth Marines – field-tested the Ground Renewable Expeditionary ENergy System (GREENS) system in August 2010 and found that it saved 8 gallons of fuel per day for each of the company’s 150 men.  Complemented with other renewable energy systems, the Marines powered their combat operations center without using the diesel generator for eight days.

The renewable technology that will power Company I costs about $50,000 to $70,000; a single diesel generator costs several thousand dollars. But when it costs hundreds of dollars to get each gallon of traditional fuel to base camps in Afghanistan, the investment is quickly defrayed.”

It takes approximately 200 GREENS (1,600 kilowatts of solar modules with battery storage for 300 Watts of continuous power) to replace a single 60 kilowatt diesel generator, but it saved the Marine company 1,200 gallons of fuel per day.  In Iraq, that fuel would have cost $45 per gallon, including transportation and security costs.  That’s a savings of $54,000 in a single day.  If priced at $70,000 each, the 200 GREENS will pay back in 260 days, less than 9 months. 

If every U.S. company serving in Iraq made use of GREENS, it would reduce fuel consumption by U.S. troops by 25%, saving 146 million gallons of fuel and $6.5 billion per year. 

There are benefits besides saved fuel and money.  Marines appreciated that the solar-powered base systems are quiet, and also don’t require constant refueling.  The no-fuel requirement also benefits security, as 72 U.S. soldiers died protecting convoys in Iraq in 2009.

The military provides a great illustration of the utility and cost-effectiveness of distributed generation, and one that should inform state-side strategies for energy deployment.

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Change in Tax Credit Policy Drives 24% Drop in Residential Solar Price

Date: 16 Dec 2010 | posted in: Energy, Energy Self Reliant States | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

Update: It’s important to note that this refers to the net installed cost.  In other words, the installed cost dropped because residential solar customers were now getting an uncapped federal tax credit. We wrote in this 2009 report about the … Read More

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