Building Interest in Community Solar

|

article image
Harvard Business Review is usually a trusted source for those that want to gain unique insights into specific problems. Their studies are often very in depth and provide all the details you need to get your arms around a subject. Recently, however, Joshua Pearce wrote an article about how solar energy is being held back by regulations, not technology. His piece had some good insights about how the industry has grown and how “plug and play” systems are a good alternative to higher-priced solar energy systems. Mr. Pearce, however, made no reference to what might be the very best solution for the residents and small businesses who want to participate in renewables — community solar.

Spotlight

Advanced Wind Solutions Ltd

We can provide manpower and expertise in the service and maintenance sector of the wind industry, both on and off-shore. We are all industry- trained technicians, having worked for some of the world’s largest manufacturers and owners of Megawatt Wind Turbines.

OTHER ARTICLES
ENERGY

5 Challenges in Renewable Energy in 2021

Article | April 20, 2021

Energy is an important feature in the economic and political development of a country. In developed nations like the USA, energy expansion has now reached a point where renewable energy sources also play a large part in the production of electricity. To meet the energy demands of the country, most production of renewable energy comes from fossil fuels and other non-renewable energy sources. Around 25% of the world’s energy is generated with renewable energy resources- mainly solar, wind, hydropower, and in some cases, geothermal. It is one of the fastest-growing electricity sources. Renewable energy is collected from resources that are abundantly available in the environment, like the sun or wind. There has been a growing interest in renewable energy production as fossil fuels are depleting. In most parts of the world, renewable energy has become a primary source of energy production. Renewable energy is preferred as they produce fewer greenhouse gases than non-RE sources. There are several other advantages to renewable sources like lower carbon emissions, reduced air pollution, and other socioeconomic benefits. However, unlike non-RE sources, there are challenges in renewable energy like economic, political and regulatory barriers, structural, social, and technical challenges which require advancement in technology, and a heavy investment with a proper understanding of obstacles it faces. Some obstacles are due to technology associated with renewable energy, whereas others are because of policies, marketplace, regulations, and infrastructure. Impact of Covid-19 The Covid-19 pandemic has brought the world to a grinding halt. It has severely impacted individuals and businesses alike, with many of the latter being closed down permanently. Similarly, the pandemic has also impacted the expansion of clean energy systems by forcefully curbing any investments. The technology and adoption of renewables have been making uneven but sure progress. The global pandemic has slowed down this development. According to International Energy Agency, the global share of electricity supply from renewables had reached 28% in 2020 from 26% in 2019, but the growth is expected to slow down further. The total energy supply is set to reduce by 13% from 2019. This substantial decline can be attributed to supply chain disruptions, lockdown, and emerging financial problems. Transport biofuel production and renewable heat consumption are projected to decline due to lower industrial activity. Governments have an opportunity to promote and accelerate the use of clean energy by incentivizing building, technology, and infrastructure across the country. This would be crucial to rebuilding the economy, create jobs, and build efficiency. Capital Costs and Investment The most obvious challenge of widespread adoption of renewables is cost, predominantly infrastructure costs like building and installing solar and wind power plants. Although it is quite cheap to operate and maintain solar and wind power plants, installation becomes more and more expensive. Over the last few years, even though the prices of installation of solar panels has fallen significantly, it remains higher than non-renewables. On average, a 2-kilowatt solar panel system costs $4,159 after tax credits, whereas the capital cost of a gas-fired power plant would cost lesser than that. In the last two years, investment in renewables has increased, but that is only because the investments in fossil fuels have been rapidly falling. Clean energy investments still fall short of what is necessary to convert into a more sustainable future. To ensure continuous investment in sustainable energy, policymakers have to focus on short investment turnaround, focus on rapid environmental gains favoring cleaner energy generation. Power on demand One of the most significant challenges of renewables is the ability to provide power on demand. In the case of solar power, you only get energy during the day and only when it is sunny. As for wind energy, power is generated only when it is windy. There is an intermittent generation of power in renewables which wouldn’t be a problem if there were appropriate energy storage solutions. The biggest test in providing power on demand is storage. Even if homes, businesses, or states install wind energy systems or solar panels, storing the generated energy is still an unsolved issue. Opponents of renewable energy highlight the reliability factor on solar and wind to augment support for coal, gas, and nuclear plants, which provide baseload power. This argument is used by lobbyists to drive out investment into renewables, thus becoming a barrier to widespread adoption of wind and solar energy. Location challenges Renewable energy plants have grids that require a large area of land. It can be unappealing to customers to switch to renewable energy sources as it is conditional depending on the size of the land. Not all states and regions are apt to build solar panels or have wind turbines as they are dependent on the geographical location. For example, building solar panels in California makes more sense than building them in New York as the former has an abundant supply of both sun and land. Renewables operates on what is known as a decentralized model. In a decentralized power plant, small generating stations are spread across a larger area that works collectively to deliver power. In the case of coal, nuclear power, or natural gas, they are highly centralized and depend on fewer high output power plants. Siting Decentralized systems prove to be a problem for siting and transmission of energy created by solar or wind. Siting is needed to move blades or solar panels to large pieces of land. To do so requires to draw up contracts, negotiate, acquire permits, or build community relations; all of this can delay or kill a renewable project even before it begins. Businesses can incur additional charges due to demand and delivery which seems like a significant challenge for them. Utility services apply these charges to recover costs of purchasing energy and maintaining power lines and energy lost in the transmission system. Moving power sources closer to your business will help you avoid such preventable expenses. Transmission The next challenge to overcome in renewables is the transmission of generated electricity. Transmission means the transfer of electricity from where it is generated to where it is consumed. Most transmitters that exist in this day and age are built for coal and other fossil fuels and not renewables. To make things easier for transmission of clean energy, there needs to be a significant infrastructure and technological development, which cost a lot of money. Making the economics work with financing and siting can prove costly for developers and customers alike. Policies and Regulations Unfortunately, the fossil fuel industry is backed by multi-billionaires who wield a considerable amount of political influence. This severely affects the chances of expansion for the renewable industry. Industry experts estimate that the USA spends upwards of $60 billion on subsidies for fossil fuels every year. The taxpayers have helped fund the industry’s research and development, drilling, mining, and generation of electricity. Renewables like wind and solar enjoy much lesser subsidies and political backing. The fossil fuel industry has used its enormous power to spread misinformation about climate change. To increase public interest and investment in renewables, there need to be clear and concise legal procedures and regulatory policies. Having proper regulations in place creates a stable environment for investment and overcome hurdles and can anticipate the revenue streams. Large-scale renewable energy projects require a large amount of capital which is hindered by the failure of proper policies that fail to attract private players. Frequently Asked Questions What is a major challenge with using more renewable energy? Renewable energy is competing with fossil fuels and nuclear technology. Other major challenges include underdeveloped infrastructure and lack of economies of scale. What are the benefits of using renewable energy? Some benefits of using renewable energy are lower energy costs, reduction of emissions, massive positive impact on environment, and marketing opportunities for businesses. Is renewable energy cheaper than fossil fuels? Fossil fuels are subsidized which makes it cheaper at the beginning. However, renewables get cheaper to maintain over the years hence making it cheaper than fossil fuels. What is the cheapest source of renewable energy? Solar PV and on site wind are the cheapest sources of renewable energy sources. { "@context": "https://schema.org", "@type": "FAQPage", "mainEntity": [{ "@type": "Question", "name": "What is a major challenge with using more renewable energy?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "Renewable energy is competing with fossil fuels and nuclear technology. Other major challenges include underdeveloped infrastructure and lack of economies of scale." } },{ "@type": "Question", "name": "What are the benefits of using renewable energy?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "Some benefits of using renewable energy are lower energy costs, reduction of emissions, massive positive impact on environment, and marketing opportunities for businesses." } },{ "@type": "Question", "name": "Is renewable energy cheaper than fossil fuels?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "Fossil fuels are subsidized which makes it cheaper at the beginning. However, renewables get cheaper to maintain over the years hence making it cheaper than fossil fuels." } }] }

Read More

A wave of scientific breakthroughs is going to make solar energy cheaper than energy generated from fossils

Article | April 20, 2021

Human pollution such as burning fossil fuels has been causing global environmental change for decades. Climate change impacts leave us no time to hesitate before taking urgent actions towards a more sustainable life. Going solar can be one of these actions. Luckily, scientists all over the world work on new materials that are going to make solar panels cheaper and more efficient. Australian and Chinese engineers experiment with a crystalline structure perovskite. Though being rather promising, this material is also very fragile. That is why it is planned to be used in tandem with silicon panels, which are more durable.

Read More

A Clean Energy Source of the Future?

Article | April 20, 2021

You know things are getting exciting when German bureaucrats are turning emotional, as happened one month ago in Berlin: “Hydrogen is the shit! And we need it desperately.” Thomas Herdan, the bureaucrat in question, is a prominent policymaker in the German Economic Ministry and, until that moment, was known for analytical thoughtfulness rather than for enthusiastic outcries. His excitement, however, is shared by governments and businesses around the world. The International Energy Agency IEA estimates that every year, the world’s governments pour $700 million into R&D for hydrogen applications alone. A few months ago, the U.S. announced $40 million in funding for 29 hydrogen projects across the country. As IEA puts it, hydrogen currently has “unprecedented political and business momentum”.

Read More

How Project Modeling Can Energize the Community Solar Market

Article | April 20, 2021

Community solar programs have the potential to greatly expand the market for solar energy and make the benefits of solar more accessible. However, growth of this sector is currently inhibited by uncertainty in project delivery costs. We sat down with Dr. Joseph Goodman of the Rocky Mountain Institute to understand this challenge—and how detailed design modeling capabilities can help overcome this barrier.

Read More

Spotlight

Advanced Wind Solutions Ltd

We can provide manpower and expertise in the service and maintenance sector of the wind industry, both on and off-shore. We are all industry- trained technicians, having worked for some of the world’s largest manufacturers and owners of Megawatt Wind Turbines.

Events