Saturday, April 15, 2006

Austin Energy Excels as #1 Green Energy Electricity Utility in America



UPDATE: This is a list of the top ten green energy programs in the United States with the latest December 2005 figures and links to these electric utilities. One of the biggest differences we can make is to switch to "green energy" - energy generated from 100% renewable sources. Florida Power & Light is a new entry into the top ten at number four. The company recently announced the construction of the largest solar array in Florida on the site of a closed landfill in Sarasota. The 1,200 photovoltaic solar panels are each about 31 inches wide and 63 inches long. The facility is to be more than 28,000 square feet, or about half the size of a football field. "We sought a location that had a ground site large enough for 250 kilowatts of photovoltaic panels," said Jeff Bartel, FP&L VP of external affairs.

If you live in a part of the United States that is not served by an electric utility on this list please see this Map of Green Energy Providers by State.

As our energy challenges are global I appreciate every assistance in compiling a similar list of renewable energy providers in other countries. Feel free to email or leave a comment.

Returning to the United States, Austin Energy has shown its commitment to renewable energy by topping the list. The U.S. Department of Energy said Austin Energy's Green Choice program sold more than 334 million hours of renewable energy last year.

More than 350 businesses in Austin get their power from renewable sources as an alternative to fossil fuels.

Austin Energy uses electricity from 61 West Texas wind turbines.

Here's the top ten green energy programs in the United States (as of December 2005).

1. Austin Energy -
areas served include Austin, Texas
green energy from Wind Power, Land Fill Gas, Small Hydro -
435 MWh/year

2. Portland General Electric (PGE) -
areas served include Portland, Oregon
green power from existing Geothermal, Wind Power, Small Hydro - 340 MWh/year

3. PacifiCorp - includes Pacific Power and Utah Power
areas served include:
Oregon, Washington, Wyoming, California, Utah, Idaho
green energy from Wind Power, Biomass, Solar Energy -
234 MWh/year

4. Florida Power & Light - green power from Biomass, Wind Power, Solar Energy - 225 MWh/year

5. Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) -
green power from Landfill Gas, Wind Power, Small Hydro, Solar Energy - 195 MWh/year

6. Xcel Energy -
areas served include: Denver,Colorado; Elkhart, Kansas; Wakefield, Michigan; Saint Paul, Minnesota; Roswell, New Mexico; Fargo, North Dakota; Boise City, Idaho; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Amarillo, Texas; Eau Claire, Wisconsin
green electricity from Wind Power - 148 MWh/year

7. National Grid -
areas served include:
New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Nantucket
green power from Biomass, Wind Power, Small Hydro, Solar Energy - 128 MWh/year

8. Basin Electric Power Cooperative (SMUD) -
green power from Wind Power - 114 MWh/year

9. Puget Sound Energy (PSE)-
area served Washington state
green energy from Wind Power, Solar Energy, Biogas -
71 MWh/year

10. OG&E Electric Services -
area served Oklahoma
green electricity from Wind Power - 64 MWh/year

(source: NREL)

MWh/year = million kWh/year rounded down

List of Green Energy Providers by State

One of the single biggest ways we as individuals can encourage the use of alternative energy and help aid the transition to a post fossil fuel age is to buy electricity partly, or preferably completely, generated using alternative energy.

Switching your electricity utility provider may be as simple as requesting a form or filling one in online. That's exactly how I switched to 100% renewable energy (generated mainly from wind power with some solar power and small scale hydro thrown into the mix). Renewable energy options are available throughout the U.K. and in many other countries.

To find out if you can switch to renewable energy in your area look on your search engine of choice for "green energy", "green power" or "green electricity". You may also need to add your location to the search. If your local utility doesn't provide a renewable energy option yet, email or call them and ask why.

Original News 8 Austin Article

Green-e Certified Electricity Products

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20 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Too bad Austin loses in other green areas like car emissions... Austin might try building sidewalks and putting up businesses with parking lots in the back. Make this city more livable... Just having green energy credits via a city owned utility company doesn't solve the problem...

8:10 am, February 07, 2006  
Blogger braineel said...

James, love your blog and frequently repost your articles over at Sewersofbabel.com. We should talk sometime email, aim, or find me else where braineel@(just about everything dot everything) Braineel@yahoo.com or aim is easiest. I look forward to hearing from you.

7:32 am, February 08, 2006  
Blogger Engineer-Poet said...

334 MWh/year is only 915 kWh/day, an average of 38 kW.  (That's got to be an error; the landfill gas plant alone is 13 MW.  Call it 334 GWh/yr and 38 MW average.)  But even corrected, it's pathetic.

Compare to Austin Energy's other plants:
1400 MW gas-fired
600 MW coal-fired (part owner)
400 MW share of 2.5 GW nuclear complex
358 MW of gas (due for retirement)

Austin Energy is the best in the country... and it doesn't even break the 2% renewable mark.  We've got so far to go....

7:12 am, February 09, 2006  
Blogger Kate West said...

I wish my local power company was 100% renewable-energy-based, but I do have the option of purchasing "blocks" of power. Hopefully doing so will get the company to switch more and more to wind power (which is the green energy resource offered).

2:01 pm, March 25, 2006  
Anonymous Ann Church said...

IF only all utility companies would follow suit! In 2004, an estimated 350 new coal-fired power plants were expected to be online by 2012 in the US, India and China. Nearly 100 of these are expected to be built in the US. The output from these power plants would dwarf any greenhouse gas emission savings from the Kyoto Protocol. Co-op America is currently undertaking an action regarding this to tell three major corporations in the US - Peabody, Sempra, and Dominion that coal is NOT the answer to affordable power and that they should be investing much more in solar and other renewable energy technologies. This action can be found at: http://www.coopamerica.org/takeaction/coalpower/. I urge you all to take it, let people know about it, and really help raise awareness about this issue. Imagine if those billions could be invested in RENEWABLE energies?!

12:07 pm, April 06, 2006  
Anonymous Sass Peress said...

The fact that we are even chatting at this great level is a testament to how far our society has come in a few decades. Think about whether everyday people were chatting like this in the 80s? Likely not. Only the treehuggers and scientists were talking about solar power or other renewables being a complete solution. Their dreams are slowly going to become our reality and then the middle east becomes a desert again.

Shifting “power” is about more than just energy. Its about the balance of “power” in our world.

Sass Peress
CEO
ICP Solar

12:10 pm, April 22, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thy power of ones hippy truck depends on this site thank you i luv it so much u made ones hippy truck
luv jebus

8:15 pm, April 23, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As we have all heard ,windmills kill birds,a lot of birds.Just do a google search (windmills kill birds). Here on our ranch I had a problem with pidgeon droppings in the barn. Birds and their droppings can spread 60+ transmittable diseases including: West Nile Virus, Avian Flu, Bird Flu & St. Louis Encephilitus.So I purchased a sonic bird repeller.
It works great,so my question is why cant it help keep birds away drom windmill parks? I have a deer whistle on the bumper of my car and after 16 years of driving home late at night I have never hit a deer,I see hit deer on the side of the road quite often.Please let me know your feedback.Thanks Bill@americasbookshelf.com

10:01 am, May 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it would be interesting to see the green capacity of these utilities as a percentage of their overall capacity, to put it in better perspective.

i need to quibble a little with your MWh = million kWh line; a MWh = 1,000 kWh, or a million Wh.

al

5:29 pm, May 08, 2006  
Blogger Joao Soares said...

Nice tips.
Please see my complete dossier No Nuke in my blog, full of educational resources and links.
Thanks

http://bioterra.blogspot.com
Portugal

3:00 pm, May 11, 2006  
Anonymous Robert Nanders said...

Remarkable stuff to read. I'm actually interested in this, since I might be moving in that direction to escape suburbia.

8:26 pm, June 05, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My granddaughter attends Murdoch University in Perth, Australia majoring in Alternative Energy Engineering. Murdoch is the top university in this field. Does anyone know how she could get some scholarship or grant money to help with her tuition?

8:54 am, June 19, 2006  
Blogger v. bruce stenswick said...

This is a hair brained idea for engineer-poet to tear apart. Firefly Energy is supposed to have lead acid batteries that do not sulfate. Suppose we create a new market, a residential UPS market. If the batteries have a energy density of 40 Wh/liter, I calculate a 2 cubic foot UPS would power a 15 amp household circuit for an hour. More importantly, if every household (I could not find statistics for the number of single family homes) in Minnesota had one, we would be storing 3800 MWh of electricity. That would allow the utilities to use all of their generating capacity currently used for voltage regulation and spinning reserve to be used for baseload. It would probably also allow them to do away with much of their peaking equipment. It would also go along way towards removing one of the problems of solar, wind, etc, that is the intermitent nature of the source. I know that this would be expensive, but if the batteries really do not sulfate, it is a one time expense. I basically borrowed this idea from various articles I have read on V2G, but they did not use lead acid batteries, which should be much cheaper. I just took the vehicle out of the scenario.

6:13 am, August 23, 2006  
Anonymous KEO said...

Why doesn't the federal government take control of our oil companies and quickly build out the infrastructure to develop and supply Solar Energy. Or Why can we require the power companies to pay investors (net metering) beyond customer usage this would provide investors such as myself to invest in solar power farms?

Here are some notes I am putting together on this business oppurtunnity that must be done, anyone want to help me?

Please respond or blog or whatever- I have never blogged before.

Northern California
Solar Power Implementation Initiative (NCSPII)
Mill Valley, California
August 26, 2006

Scope

The Northern California Solar Power Implementation Initiative (NCSPII) will develop grid-connected photovoltaic hardware systems to reduce California’s strain on the current power grid and protect the environment by utilizing renewable energy [5].

NCSPII systems will be financed utilizing funds obtained through private investors, small business administration loans, and the Buildings End-Use Energy Efficiency Program through California Energy Commission’s PIER (Public Interest Energy Research)[4]. NCSPII will lease land through right-of-way applications designated for solar energy development projects on public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) [2].

NCSPII’s mission is to build the infrastructure required to provide renewable energy to the public, therefore reducing the United Sates independence on foreign oil supplies. The NCSPII will use state net metering policies to offset consumption of their customers to pay for equipment and operational cost associated with their photovoltaic solar power farms.

Background

To fulfill solar energy's promise, the President's Advanced Energy Initiative and the 2007 Budget proposes a new $148 million Solar America Initiative (SAI) — an increase of $65 million over the FY06 budget. The SAI will accelerate the development of advanced solar electric technologies, including photovoltaics with the goal of making them cost-competitive with other forms of renewable electricity by 2015 [1].

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technology Program (SETP) will achieve the goals of the SAI through partnerships and strategic alliances with industry participants, universities, Federal and state government, and other non-governmental agencies by focusing primarily on two areas:

Technology Pathway Partnerships — research and development on PV component and system designs, including low-cost approaches for manufacturing; and

Technology Acceptance — activities that address marketplace barriers and offer the opportunity for market expansion.

[7] Solar energy has significant potential in the western United States for converting the sun’s light into electricity using technology that is rapidly improving. Solar energy currently accounts for less than one percent of total U.S. electricity supply. About 370 megawatts (MW) of solar power are currently installed in the western United States. Of this, approximately 20 MW of electricity is produced from photovoltaics and 350 MW from concentrating solar power (Renewable Energy Atlas of the West, Hewlett Foundation and the Energy Foundation, 2002). As the cost of producing solar energy declines, there may be a greater interest in locating large solar power systems on public lands.

The total terrestrial solar power incidence is 175,000 TW (terawatts) out of which 125,000 TW reaches the surface (the rest being reflected by clouds and absorbed by the atmosphere) which compares to about 13 TW total energy consumption by humans (oil, gas, nuclear, hydro)[5].

On June 22, 2004, the Western Governors’ Association unanimously agreed to collaborate in finding ways to increase the contribution of renewable energy in meeting the energy needs of the West. The Governors’ are actively engaged with the solar industry and interested stakeholders in evaluating an initiative that may result in the construction of concentrating solar power plants in the southwestern United States with a total capacity of 1,000 MW.

Photovoltaic Arrays [7], [5]

Photovoltaic arrays distinguish themselves from solar cells in that they are conveniently sized, packaged and priced for easy installation and deployment in domestic and light industrial applications. The application of photovoltaic arrays for medium and large scale energy production is known as photovoltaics.

Photovoltaic (PV) systems use semiconductor materials similar to those used in computer chips to capture the energy in sunlight and convert it directly into electricity. Photovoltaic cells are electrically connected into a weather tight module. These modules can be further connected to form an array which can include electrical connections, mounting hardware, power conditioning equipment, and batteries that store solar energy. The size of the array depends on the amount of sunlight and the needs of the customer. Large PV electrical generating systems have not generally been used for commercial utility applications due to the high upfront cost.

Most PV applications are small, use little or no land, and have minimal or no environmental impact since electricity created is generally used on site or as part of an existing authorized use. They generally provide power to individual homes and small buildings. They are also found in rural areas on communication towers, water pumps, and road and traffic signs.

The environmental impact of small distributed PV systems is minimal, as they require no water for system cooling, and generate no by-products. Most installations of solar PV systems are less than 5 kW in capacity, and tend to be most cost-effectively applied in isolated locations where construction of electric transmission and distribution networks would be more costly than a PV system. These types of solar PV systems will likely be installed on an existing facility or structure or as part of an existing authorization.

Concentrating Solar Power Plants[7], [5]

Concentrating solar power plants are generally large systems that use mirrors to focus sunlight to create high temperatures. The high temperatures generated by the focused sunlight are used to generate electricity either by a) a heat engine causing gas to expand moving a piston or b) or a conventional power cycle using boiling water to create steam that turns a turbine. For steam-driven concentrating solar system, facilities include a solar collection system, a system for transferring the collected energy to a working fluid or to a storage system, and a system such as a turbo-generator for converting the thermal energy to electricity. Many of these power plants have a hybrid solar/fossil fuel capability that can be used during periods of low solar energy. Many also include thermal storage. These capabilities enable concentrating solar power plants to supply energy to a utility grid when it is most needed (day or night).

The lands having the best solar resources are usually arid or semi-arid. Unlike PV systems, concentrating solar power systems require sunlight that is not diffused by clouds. This limits their use to the West, with the southwest possessing some of the best solar energy resources.

There are currently three different types of centralized concentrating solar power systems; parabolic trough, solar “power tower” and solar dish. These systems require relatively flat land with slopes not exceeding 3% to accommodate the solar collectors. The area of land required depends on the type of plant, but is about 5 acres per produced megawatt. It is anticipated that a commercial scale concentrating solar power facility may be in the range of 100 MW or larger and will require in excess of 500 acres. This large land base requirement can involve significant surface disturbance with an associated potential impact on a variety of resources and resource uses on the public lands. These types of facilities also require roads, water, protection from gusty winds, and security fencing, and can involve significant surface disturbance. Electricity generated is sold to the utility under an agreement.

Additional information on solar energy technology is available from the Department of Energy at http://www.eere.energy.gov/RE/solar.html or the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) at http://www.nrel.gov.

Funding/Resources

NCSPII will utilize federal and state resources currently in place to fund its first proposed facility.

On January 12, 2006, the California Public Utilities Commission approved the California Solar Incentive Program[5], a comprehensive $2.8 billion program that provides incentives toward solar development over 11 years.

The President’s National Energy Policy encourages the development of renewable energy resources, including solar energy, as part of an overall strategy to develop a diverse portfolio of domestic energy supplies for our future. The BLM prepared a National Energy Policy Implementation Plan that included a variety of tasks related to the development of energy resources on the public lands, including renewable energy resources. While the current contribution of renewable energy resources to our energy supply is relatively small, renewable energy generating sectors of our economy is the fastest growing in the United States. Continued growth in solar energy development will be important in delivering larger supplies of clean, domestic power for America’s growing economy [7].

Photovoltaic Cell Recycling

Sources:
1. road side sign decommissioning by transportation authorities
2. buildings

NCSPII, through the Energy Innovations Small Grant (EISG) Program [4] will develop photovoltaic arrays hardware recycling and reuse research projects in California to benefit Californian’s and the environment by ultimately utilizing solar renewable energy resources and recycling photovoltaic cells to reduce the stain on the current power grid and demand of refined silicon.

The California Energy Commission (CEC) is offering grant funding to projects that determine the feasibility of energy research and development concepts relating to the Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) Program. The EISG Program which provides up to $95,000 for hardware projects to small businesses, non-profits, individuals and academic institutions to conduct research that establishes the feasibility of new, innovative energy concepts [4].

Research projects must target one of the six PIER program areas, address a California energy problem and provide a potential benefit to California electric and natural gas ratepayers.

Instruction Memorandum (IM) No. 2005-006 establishes policy for the processing of right-of-way applications for solar energy development projects on public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and evaluating the feasibility of installing solar energy systems on BLM administrative facilities and projects [7].

NCSPII First Proposed Facility

The Northern California Solar Power Implementation Initiative (NCSPII) design model would emulate the Solarpark Gut Erlasse 12-megawatt solar electric plant and the solar electric tracking system at the Napa valley College.

SunPower Corp.

Solarpark Gut Erlasse is a 12-megawatt solar electric plant located in a working agricultural field and can serve the electricity needs of thousands of customers each year. SunPower’s solar cells are used in SOLON’s “Mover” electricity generation system, designed for deployment in multi-megawatt solar power plants. Movers automatically tilt and rotate during the day to directly face the Sun at all times, similar to the concept utilized at Dryden.

PowerLight Corporation

“OK Produce chose to incorporate solar power to lower energy costs and conserve natural resources. Our solar photovoltaic system produces 50% of the facility’s electrical needs, which yields lifetime savings of $1.6 million.”

Napa Valley College installed a 1.2 MW PowerLight PowerTracker® System as part of the college’s facilities improvement project. Sited on a field near the Napa River, the PowerTracker System is mounted on pedestals and raised to leverage an untapped asset—a floodplain that is otherwise unusable. The array covers 150,000 square feet. Combining solar power and energy efficiency allows for growth of the campus facilities with little or no net increase in energy demand from the utility grid.

Cost Analysis

As of early 2006 average cost per installed watt has decreased to about $4.50. (The average consumption of a US home is about 1000 watts.) [5]

Costs of systems funded under the CEC's program have declined from more than $12 per watt (in 2004 dollars) in 1998 to less then $9 per watt for 2004-2005.

SunPower Corporation says since 1975, the cost of a solar system has dramatically fallen from $80 per watt to less than $10 per watt,

PowerLight Corporation [10] cost breakdown anaytis estimates 25-50% project cost wil require fininacing.

Net Metering California

California 1 MW (three biogas digesters up to
10 MW per unit may net meter) /
Commercial, Industrial, Residential
Photovoltaics, Landfill Gas,
Wind, Anaerobic Digestion,
Fuel Cells
0.5% of a utility's
peak demand
(separate limit of
50 MW for
SDG&E)
Credited at retail rate to customer's next bill;
granted to utility at end of 12-month billing cycle
Yes All utilities1

Self-Generation Incentive Program Statewide Trigger Point Tracker Reduced to $2.50 at 50MW of Conditional Reservations (CR's) July 22, 2006 from $2.8.

Citations

[1] US Dept of Energy, Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Website

[2] Assessing The Potential For Renewable Energy On Public Lands; U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management; U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
DOE/GO-102003-1704 February 2003

[3] A Directory of Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, and Environmental Protection Assistance Programs EPA State and Local Capacity Building Branch April 2004

[4] Energy Innovations Small Grant Program A Program of the California Energy Commission Website

[5] From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia website

[6] SunPower Corp. 3939 N. 1st Street San Jose, California 95134 USA Main: (408) 240-5500

[7] EMS TRANSMISSION 10/21/2004 Instruction Memorandum No. 2005-006
Expires: 09/30/2006 Subject: Solar Energy Development Policy

[8] Science@Berkley Lab January 30, 2006 Article

[9] Harnessing the Power of the Sun Environment and Resource Management Originating Technology/ NASA Contribution

[10] PowerLight Corporation Website

Solar Power Implementation Initiative (NCSPII)
TASK NOTES

The project’s proposal area in located in the BLM ….

Complete Application 06-02 See APPLICATION_MANUAL_06-02 in Desktop Solar Polar Folder DEADLINE Nine copies of the grant application must be received no later than 5PM on October 13, 2006.

A) Energy Innovations Small Grant Program
Final Report Instructions

B)
ADDITIONAL FUNDING OPTIONS [3]

1. Review the EPA funding Ops document

2. I Need a renewable power development applications see http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy03osti/33530.pdf

3. I need BLM lease application.

4. Andrews girlfriend assistance if the PIER EISG grant application is appropriate, combined with a BLM grant in the zone up near Santa Rosa?

Dear Sunpower,

I am an individual investor interesting in developing a grid-connected photovoltaic hardware system in Northern California through the California Energy Commission’s Energy Innovations Small Grant (EISG) Program on public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Can you provide me with guidance on implementing such a facility using SunPower technology like that used in Solarpark Gut Erlasse?

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Declining manufacturing costs (dropping at 3 to 5% a year in recent years) are expanding the range of cost-effective uses. The average lowest retail cost of a large photovoltaic array declined from $7.50 to $4 per watt between 1990 and 2005. With many jurisdictions now giving tax and rebate incentives, solar electric power can now pay for itself in five to ten years in many places. "Grid-connected" systems - that is, systems with no battery that connect to the utility grid through a special inverter - now make up the largest part of the market.

On August 11, 2005, Southern California Edison announced an agreement to purchase solar powered Stirling engines from Stirling Energy Systems over a twenty year period and in quantities (20,000 units) sufficient to generate 500 megawatts of electricity.[9] These systems — to be installed on a 4,500 acre (18 km²) solar farm — will use mirrors to direct and concentrate sunlight onto the engines which will drive generators. Less than a month later, Stirling Energy Systems announced another agreement with San Diego Gas & Electric to provide between 300 and 900 megawatts of electricity.[10]
The world's largest solar power plant is located in the Mojave Desert. Solel[11], an Israeli company, operates the plant, which consists of 1000 acres (4 km²) of solar reflectors. This plant produces 90% of the world's commercially produced solar power (excluding photovoltaics).
On January 12, 2006, the California Public Utilities Commission approved the California Solar Incentive Program[12], a comprehensive $2.8 billion program that provides incentives toward solar development over 11 years.
As of early 2006 average cost per installed watt has decreased to about $4.50. (The average consumption of a US home is about 1000 watts.)

Roof tiles can now even be purchased with an integrated PV cell.

In 2004 the worldwide production of solar cells increased by 60%. 2005 is expected to see large growth again, but shortages of refined silicon have been hampering production worldwide since late 2004.

Active Solar

PV vs Solar Reflective

PV

Photovoltaic arrays distinguish themselves from solar cells in that they are conveniently sized, packaged and priced for easy installation and deployment in domestic and light industrial applications. The application of photovoltaic arrays for medium and large scale energy production is known as photovoltaics.

Solar Reflective

Due to the success of Solar Two, a commercial power plant, called Solar Tres, is being built using Solar One and Solar Two's technology. Solar Tres will be three times larger than Solar Two With 2493, 93m sq² heliostats. They will be made of a highly reflective glass with metal back to reduce costs by about 45%. A larger storage tank will be used giving the plant the ability to store 600MWh, allowing the plant to run continuously during the summer. By simplifying the pumping mechanism and improving the molten salt composition the plant will gain a 6% increase in efficiency over Solar Two.

Substantial Cost Declines Found; More Are Possible [8]
The results of the Berkeley Lab analysis are encouraging for solar power in the state — researchers found that PV system costs have declined substantially over time. Among the CEC-funded systems, annual cost reductions averaged approximately 70 cents per watt, representing a 7.3 percent annual decline. (Cost per watt in this report is indicated in dollars per AC watt, or $/WAC. Other reports use WDC-STC, which stands for DC watts at standard test conditions.)
Costs of systems funded under the CEC's program have declined from more than $12 per watt (in 2004 dollars) in 1998 to less then $9 per watt for 2004-2005. Under the CPUC program costs have declined more moderately, with annual reductions averaging 36 cents per watt, a 4.1 percent decline.

Analysis shows that the cost of PV installations in California has been declining, especially those systems receiving rebates under the California Energy Commission program.

Greater cost reductions are possible, if experience in Japan is any guide. There, costs for standard 3-kW residential systems averaged roughly $7.4 per watt in 2004, which is $1.4 per watt lower than similar costs in California. The Berkeley Lab report finds that the cost of the solar modules — the solar panels alone, without the inverter or other system costs — have largely passed directly to PV system purchasers in California on a one-for-one basis, and that module costs have been declining worldwide (with a recent uptick because of shortages of silicon).
However the study suggests that these costs — determined by the worldwide market — are not as subject to influence by state policies as are the nonmodule costs of installing the system on buildings. It's encouraging that nonmodule costs, especially under the CEC program, have declined substantially, suggesting that California's solar programs are beginning to have their desired effect. Much more significant reductions will be necessary, however, if solar power is to be a significant contributor to the state's electricity supply.
To Do

Find out about land development in eastern Washington; tie into Columbia river power grid, federal land grants….ect

Concentrating or Non-concentrating


A large parabolic reflector solar furnace is located in the Pyrenees at Odeillo, French Cerdagne. It is used for various research purposes.[15]
Concentrating solar power (CSP) systems use lenses or mirrors and tracking systems to focus a large area of sunlight into a small beam capable of producing high temperatures and correspondingly high thermodynamic efficiencies. Concentrating solar is generally associated with solar thermal applications but concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) applications exist as well and these technologies also exhibit improved efficiencies. CSP systems require direct sunlight to operate properly.[16]

Non-concentrating photovoltaic and solar thermal systems do not concentrate sunlight. While the maximum attainable temperatures (200 °C) and thermodynamic efficiencies are lower, these systems offer simplicity of design a have the ability to effectively utilize diffuse solar radiation.[17]
BLM INFO

Solar energy has significant potential in the western United States for converting the sun’s light into electricity using technology that is rapidly improving. Solar energy currently accounts for less than one percent of total U.S. electricity supply. About 370 megawatts (MW) of solar power are currently installed in the western United States. Of this, approximately 20 MW of electricity is produced from photovoltaics and 350 MW from concentrating solar power (Renewable Energy Atlas of the West, Hewlett Foundation and the Energy Foundation, 2002). As the cost of producing solar energy declines, there may be a greater interest in locating large solar power systems on public lands.

Western Governors’ Association

The quality of the solar resource, over a month or a year, is an important indicator in determining the viability of a site for commercial solar development. Other site attributes include access to available water for concentrated solar power steam generation and cooling, proximity to electric transmission facilities, and site slope. The most promising areas for development on public lands are in Arizona, southern California, Nevada, and New Mexico. Parts of Texas, Utah, and Colorado also have excellent levels of solar insolation.

The Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has prepared solar insolation potential maps at the request of BLM for Arizona, California, Nevada, and New Mexico. The maps identify areas with 1 percent or less slope with high levels of solar insolation that have potential for commercial solar energy development. These maps are available at ftp://ftp.nrel.gov/pub/dheimill-out/dni_sw.zip. A PowerPoint presentation showing the maps is at ftp://ftp.nrel.gov/pub/dheimill-out/dnisw_st.ppt.

Right-of-way applications for solar energy development projects will be identified as a high priority Field Office workload and will be processed in a timely manner.

Most renewable energy uses of the public lands can currently be accommodated by existing BLM land-use plans, and applicants from industry may apply for an authorization under the appropriate authority at any time. These existing land-use plans will identify wilderness areas, Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC), and other special designated management areas where land-use restrictions may apply to a variety of uses, including renewable energy projects. However, if a land-use plan is prepared to specifically address and provide for renewable energy development within certain areas of a land-use planning area, it may facilitate the accelerated processing of future renewable energy applications. The land-use plan will address environmental issues associated with those proposed uses, which can then be used to tier further environmental review of specific renewable energy project proposals.

Identifying land use plans that could be prioritized to specifically address renewable energy development provides an opportunity to potentially reduce the amount of additional environmental review required. The documentation needed to process applications and make management decisions on renewable energy projects could also be reduced.

Therefore, one purpose of this report is to assist BLM in identifying land-use planning areas with the highest potential for the development of renewable energy resources.

Why doesn't the federal government take control of our oil companies and quickly build out the infrastructure to develop and supply Solar Energy. Or Why can we require the power companies to pay investors (net metering) beyond customer usage this would provide investors such as myself to invest in solar power farms?

5:22 am, September 02, 2006  
Anonymous Vince Mareino said...

The other link you should provide is for the Federal government's Green Power Network

7:04 am, October 11, 2006  
Anonymous Erik Leipoldt said...

I appreciate your highly informative blog James. Your audience may be interested also in my site www.alternate-energy-sources.com

2:26 am, October 22, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thought you might be a good person to ask, James. Do you know if BLM lease agreements are public record and if so, how I might go about looking that up? Appreciate the blog--lots of great info.

9:47 am, November 16, 2006  
Blogger GT-Connections said...

We're recruiting for a Sr. Power Systems engineer for an established
wind power consulting engineering firm with offices in Austin. Contact amorgan@gt-connections for more information. This is a terrific opportunity. Referrals are appreciated!

3:39 pm, September 26, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Solar is the Way to Go! How long do you think we can keep complaining about the rising fuel prices to the deaf ears of our politicians.Why not Stand up and look for ourselves in our own little ways to save money for ourselves.One way is by taking advantage of the free engery source available to us in abundance.Did you know, Solar energy can be used for heating up your house, the water you bath and use for various purposes in the household,lighting,etc with a little twick to your existing space heating/solar water heating tank.And the good news is State and Federal Rebates are available on some of these systems, reducing the cost of the system almost by half.Need some useful websites to check out:
www.powerpartnerssolar.com-(a company selling Solar Water Heating Systems)
www.Dsireusa.org-(is a comprehensive source of information on state, local, utlity and federal incentives promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Come on!!!! Save upto $25.00 on your montly electricity bill, use the FREE SUN ENERGY, BE GREEN and BE HAPPY.

7:37 am, July 31, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi All:

I have just moved to Austin and I am looking to begin a career in the alternative energy industry.

I have a law degree and I possess background working in government and in real estate law.

Does anybody have any ideas of any companies hiring or what careers I could seek with my background? I am not currently a licensed attorney in Texas, so an attorney position would not work.

I would appreciate any help/advice!!

2:53 pm, September 25, 2008  

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