Friday, September 18, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Candidates Go Nuclear
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Without Net Metering, Solar Isn't So Attractive
Monday, September 14, 2009
Arnold To Take Matters Into His Own Hands
Schwarzenegger may order a change in green energy rules [Los Angeles Times]
Friday, September 11, 2009
Still Waiting on 33%; SDG&E Plan to Cut Power Goes Down in Flames
"Democrats are pushing two bills that would require utilities to get a third of their power from renewable energy sources by 2020. It would be the most aggressive such standard in the nation.
How and where utilities would be allowed to get that energy remains a point of contention between the utilities, producers of renewable power, environmental groups and consumer advocates.
California already has one of the most aggressive standards of the 31 states that require utilities to generate a certain amount of their power from renewable sources, according to the Arlington, Va.-based Pew Center on Global Climate Change. In Hawaii, utilities must generate 40 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2030 — a longer timeframe than the goal being considered in California.
The Senate and Assembly are expected to vote on two companion bills by the end of Friday, the last day of the regular legislative session. Neither bill had Republican support in committee."
Thursday, September 10, 2009
REC's & Out of State Power Deliveries Stymying a 33% Deal
The sticking points included details of renewable energy credits, which could be bought and sold on the open market, and the delivery and timing of out-of-state power coming into California.
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Still More on T-Ridge
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
The 33% Pipe Dream
Fohrer argues that, political will aside, it simply isn't possible to hit the 33% benchmark by 2020.
He points out the following:
Utilities need to be able to supplement the renewable power they produce in California with renewable power purchased from outside California. Until Sacramento is willing to let that happen, 33% just is not achievable.
Second, to transmit all of the new renewable energy from the remote spots across the state where the sun shines most and the wind blows hardest, you need transmission lines-- 11 new transmission lines to be exact. And given that each transmission line takes-- on average-- 10 years to build, the 2020 deadline isn't realistic.
Third, because we don't yet have a good way of storing renewable energy, we need fill-in power from traditional generating sources to backstop the state when the sun isn't shining or the wind isn't blowing. That means more power plants, but given air quality regulations and environmental mandates, the number of power plants is actually declining, not increasing.
Finally, CalISO estimates that achieving the 33% benchmark will cost $115 billion. Ultimately a hefty portion of that would have to be passed on to ratepayers. Dealbreaker.
Reality can be sobering.
Why 33% renewables by 2020 may be impossible [Los Angeles Times]
Friday, September 04, 2009
Thursday, September 03, 2009
The Great Solar Upheaval
Dow Jones columnist Jamie Miyazaki sees a "bloodbath" in the solar industry that stems from a perfect storm of low cost Asian suppliers, polysilicon supply shortages, and the Spanish policy shift.
She opines that, to survive, companies will need to vertically integrate or outsource, but that cash-rich companies could swoop in and make relatively inexpensive acquisitions from among the carnage once this all plays out. Hopefully, the entire episode will result in market prices that are competitive even in the absence of subsidies.
But what of the policy implications? The larger question of "should governments continue to subsidize solar and other forms of alternative energy?" looms large.
Proponents of government subsidies look at the Spain case sudy and note that government assistance is critical to establishing the necessary infrastructure to capitalize on alternative energy. However, after that infrastructure is in place, subsidies become less important.
Detractors argue that governments are creating bubbles that ultimately will burst, to the detriment of the larger economy.
The Wall Street Journal takes a deeper dive into the policy side of the solar upheaval:
"The U.S. is experimenting with different ways to promote clean energy, including tax incentives and direct federal subsidies to defray installation costs, and mandates for utilities to get a certain amount of their power from renewable energy.
California and New Jersey, which lead the U.S. in solar power, are among states that have used subsidies similar to the ones in Spain to make solar power more attractive. Two House Democrats, Jay Inslee of Washington and Bill Delahunt of Massachusetts, are drafting legislation that would create European-style tariffs for solar power.
The industry's fundamental problem is that, without subsidies, it's still not economically viable."
Spain's Solar-Power Collapse Dims Subsidy Model [Wall Street Journal]
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
Follow The Money
According to the Times:
"It is the biggest first-time fund in a decade and comes as venture capital investment in green technology is just beginning to recover from a precipitous fall prompted by the global economic collapse last fall. In the first half of the year, investments in green tech plunged to $513 million from $2 billion in the first six months of 2008, according to a survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers."
Separately, the Wall Street Journal notes that all of the public sector money flowing to alternative energy deals through federal grants and tax incentives, is largely going to the benefit of foregin company companies that own the ventures, directly or indirectly.
More fodder for the debate over the role of government in private enterprise?
Khosla Ventures raises $1.1 billion to invest in green technology [Los Angeles Times]
U.S. Doles Out Grants for Energy Projects [Wall Street Journal]
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
Sempra Leads the Pack in Smart Grid Adaptation
This month, Sempra subsidiary San Diego Gas & Electric was picked as a part of a $99.8 million federal grant to help make the city's grid plug-in ready for the cars of the future."