The existing fleet of coal-fired power plants is critical to the economic prosperity of the U.S. As the leading provider of U.S. electricity generation (at 39%), low cost coal keeps electricity prices below those of other free market nations and provides a competitive edge for U.S industry. In addition, the “Polar Vortex” weather events of January and February 2014 demonstrated the contribution of the existing coal fleet to the reliability of the U.S. electricity grid. After limited natural gas resources were diverted from electricity production to residential heating needs, coal-fired power plants made up the difference. Nationwide, over 90% of … [read more]
This prompt is the first in a series of discussions led by invited speakers at the upcoming 15th National Conference and Global Forum on Science, Policy and the Environment: Energy and Climate Change to be held January 27-29, 2015 in Washington, DC.
The environmental benefits and declining price of solar, wind, storage and other distributed energy resources are driving their increased use in the electrical utility system. As a result, more power is being generated at homes, businesses, and commercial buildings and used locally. This jump in power production at the distribution level presents a challenge to the traditional electrical … [read more]
The rooftop solar market in the US, and especially in California, has experienced explosive growth in the last decade. At least in part this growth can be attributed to the government incentive programs, which effectively reduce the system costs. One of the most aggressive incentive programs is the California Solar Initiative (CSI), a rooftop solar subsidy program initiated in 2007 with the goal of creating 1,940 megawatts of solar capacity by 2016.
The CSI program has been touted as a great success, and it certainly seems so: over 2,000 megawatts have been installed to date. But how much of this … [read more]
The American wind energy industry has grown in spite of the “boom and bust” cycle of wind energy development fostered by the renewal-expiration-renewal cycle of the wind production tax credit (PTC). The PTC is one of the primary tools used to spur wind energy development and expired at the end of 2013. The result was a 92% drop in 2013 installations, compared to 2012. Extension of the PTC will likely be the subject of debate about so-called tax extenders during the upcoming “lame duck” session of Congress as the wind industry seeks an extension of the PTC through 2015.… [read more]
Human well-being is a direct function of power consumed, or the rate at which work is done. The relationship between rate of energy consumption and rate of wealth production should not surprise anyone. The faster work is done (more power consumed), the more wealth that is produced. It is impossible to think of a single wealth-producing activity that does not require work—the expenditure of energy. The great increase in the world’s wealth since the Industrial Revolution is the obvious outcome of using fossil fuels to provide the energy for machines … [read more]