Friday, October 29, 2010

NY Times Editorial: Remember Renewable Energy?

I appreciate this editorial for reminding us that Europe and China are cleaning our clock when it comes to investment in and support of the renewable energy (RE) industry. However, at the same time I think that this editorial could have a few more ideas peppered into it. I have called for the same subsidies for RE that the oil and gas industry receive to level the playing field, but I also think that there are other ways (rather than financial) for the government to give a boost to a nascent market. An example would include a federal renewable portfolio standard (RPS) that would force states to generate a certain portion of their energy from renewable sources by a certain time period. Currently, RE businesses are experiencing feast or famine depending which state we are talking about. Colorado has a great RPS (30% energy from RE sources by 2020), but Wyoming has no standard at all. An RPS from the feds would provide stability to the RE market. Check out this cool interactive map of state by state RE standards.

The last part of the editorial deals with transmission of all of this power and the investment needed to upgrade the electricity grid. But the NY Times said nothing about a different type of transmission called distributed generation (DG). The DG folks believe that instead of building large RE power plants we could put wind and solar PV/thermal on our homes and businesses and in our neighborhoods. Electricity generation is distributed from the many instead of coming from one source like the power plant. We still need newer transmission lines to replace some parts of our aging grid, but using a DG model would go along way to reducing the cost of renewable energy transmission and creating local jobs in our communities.

I'm glad that the NY Times is calling attention to renewable energy. It has fallen off the mainstream media's radar lately in my opinion. And it would be nice to have an editorial from a quality newspaper that illuminates more than the old ideas about how to boost the renewable energy industry. What are your thoughts dear reader?

No comments:

Wishful Thinking

*Before adding PV, wind, or solar thermal to your residential or commercial structure, the first step is to analyze this structure's energy consumption through a professional energy audit. I'd like to see some public education on the importance of an energy audit for any structure. Remember Smokey the Bear's forest fire shtick drilled into our heads over the last few decades? How about something like, "Henry the House" desperately wanting to know how much energy he consumes and wastes throughout the day?

*With over 300 sunny days a year on the Front Range is it too much to ask for solar PV and thermal modules on every residential and commercial unit (after an energy audit of course)?

*How about affordable plug-in electric cars that go more than 100 miles on a charge with PV and wind powered recharging stations?

*Dreaming of companies large and small adopting business sustainability practices to maximize profits, reduce their carbon footprint, and enhance the lives of their employees and the communities that surround them.


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