Wednesday, April 18, 2012

No Free Lunch and No Free Markets

"There is not a single free and rational market for energy anywhere on earth. Never has been, likely never will be. We decide what fuels are readily available, abundant, useful and desirable, and we build the market to suit the exigencies of those fuels. (To cite just one case in point, the vast majority of North American power bills are calculated using a blended pricing process where a kilowatt-hour bought at peak demand on a hot day and generated by a dirty, inefficient, soon-to-be-shuttered coal plant costs as much as one bought in the middle of the night from a wind turbine or hydro dam or nuclear plant. We do this to make sure those old coal plants can pay themselves off over their full life and so forth. In short, we rig the market to support the status quo.)"

-Chris Turner (writing on MNN)

Robin W. passed along a link to Chris Turner's full piece and I thought it was a great follow-up to the last Green Collar blog about the Maryland SREC legislation. Talk about building the market......

Monday, April 16, 2012

Maryland Solar REC Prices May Get a Boost

The 4.32-kW solar PV array on the garage at Elk Ridge Native Plant Preserve is an example of a "customer generator" system that is creating Solar Renewable Energy Credits in the Maryland market.

The Maryland Solar REC market (SREC) has historically been pretty strong. There is a move afoot to keep it so as the legislature moves through HB1187 and SB791. These bills seek to adjust the SREC target to keep the market from becoming saturated. has some better analysis and a couple of graphs that would make a professor at any business college proud.

The result of this legislation is expected to be quite positive in the short-term for customer generators in Maryland. Really, this legislation is just in time as the present RPS (Renewable Portfolio Standard) requirement/quota was in danger of being overwhelmed by production from customer generators as well as by new utility-scale solar farms in the state. Failure to adjust initial RPS goals in the face of new solar capacity has allowed the SREC markets in Ohio and Pennsylvania to lapse into being something just short of insignificant.

Homeowners and businesses are eager to invest in solar. This is borne out time and again as incentive programs at the state level are overwhelmed by willing participants. The proposed changes to the Maryland solar carve-out is a temporary prop that will need further bolstering possibly as soon as next year. Public interest in solar exceeds the low bar that has been set by a number of states in their respective RPSs. Raising this bar is just a stop gap measure begging a better longer term system of compensating clean power producers for the premium energy that they generate.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Hydroelectric Coming to an Off-grid Home that's Nowhere Near You

Don't throw out that old transit! We've got a hydro project.

This photo is worth enlarging just to see the etching. You can't buy one like this at Lowes!

Dave making sure that the penstock for the hydro turbine will convey water down hill. Mickey wanted to get the survey work done before the trees leafed out which made good sense as the rhododendron made measurements tricky enough.

Mickey and Jenny built this beautiful off-gird home and have used solar and a gasoline generator to power it since the 1970's . If you look closely at their PV array you will see a mixture of older and newer PV modules (I think there are some old Arco brand modules amongst the bunch.). Their hope is to use the hydro potential of the small stream behind their house to minimize the amount of generator run time during the winter months.