Update 4/23/13: EPA has updated its rankings to reflect green power as a percentage of total electricity use, accurately portraying Walmart’s paltry 4% renewable energy. While I generally have nothing but praise for the Environmental Protection Agency, their Green Power Partnership program falls short of the agency’s usual standard. In particular, the program – providing media … Read More
Updated 2/1/12 because I underestimated how the tiered pricing worked. Thanks to bkarney at Renewable Energy World for the comment. Last week I wrote about the time-of-use pricing scheme that PG&E offers in San Francisco, and how solar power is worth 14% more compared to a standard flat-rate electricity plan. In reality, it’s 36% or more … Read More
I just came across an interesting interview that radio host Diane Rehm did with Jeremy Rifkin, author of The Third Industrial Revolution. The excerpts below lay out his vision for an energy future that is decentralized and democratized. (He also notes that this vision has just emerged in the past two to four years, but we’ve been around since 1974…).
The book is organized around five pillars of the third industrial revolution:
Pillar one, renewable energy. Pillar two, your buildings become your own power plants. Pillar three, you have to store it with hydrogen. And then Pillar four…the internet communication revolution completely merges with new distributing energies to create a nervous system…Pillar five is electric plug-in transport…
when distributed Internet communication starts to organize distributed energies, we have a very powerful third industrial revolution that could change everything…
You can find some renewable energy in every square inch of the world. So how do we collect them? … If renewable energies are found in every square inch of the world in some frequency or proportion, why would we only collect them in a few central points? …
[it] jump starts the European economy, that’s the idea. Millions and millions and millions of jobs. Thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises have to convert 190 million buildings to power plants over the next 40 years…
That’s the vision: a decentralized energy system can be democratized with local ownership, spreading the production of energy and the economic benefits as widely as the renewable energy resource itself.
Conducted by market research institute Forsa on behalf of municipal utilities in Germany, the survey found that 61 percent of Germans are willing to pay more for their power if the extra cost helps ramp up the share of renewables. Public acceptance even extends to acceptance of wind turbines “in my backyard”; 54 percent of those surveyed said they would find it “good” or “very good” if a wind turbine were set up nearby.
That’s the German feed-in tariff at work…
In this Nov. 20 interview with Baruch on his WKBM Paradigms program, we talked about: The coming decentralization of the electricity system The folly of a building inherently decentralized technology (wind and solar) in a centralized fashion The benefits for local ownership of a decentralized system How limited economies of scale for solar and wind power … Read More
In this short interview on KGNU’s science show – How on Earth– with Tom McKinnon, we talk about: the problems presented for local ownership of energy resources when federal incentives use the tax code, the trouble for clean energy when it’s reliant on Wall Street, how Boulder, CO, may accomplish something remarkable with its vote to … Read More
From a friend at the United Nations climate meeting in Durban, South Africa:
Todd Stern, the head of the climate change negotiating team for the US Government called for Feed-in Tariff policies as key to solve the problem. Stern gave the briefing on December 7th to nearly 300 environmental group leaders in Durban, South Africa at the UN Climate Change negotiations. One of his major points was that the US and countries worldwide need to utilize the Feed-in Tariff approach in order to transform the energy production sector of society. While there was at best, luke warm, reception to his overall presentation of the US negotiating position, the crowd was impressed with his recognition of the transformative power of the German style renewable energy (Feed-in) approach. By providing investor security these policies have proven to be the fastest way to get gigawatts of good energy on line the quickest. As they say, when the house is on fire speed matters. [emphasis added]
Since feed-in tariffs are responsible for nearly two-thirds of the world’s wind power and 90 percent of the world’s solar, it’s a policy that would make sense for the American energy market.
Germany is the unquestioned world leader in renewable energy. By mid-2011, the European nation generated over 20 percent of its electricity from wind and solar power alone, and had created over 400,000 jobs in the industry. The sweet German success is no accident, however, and the following pie chart illustrates the results of a carefully crafted … Read More