Consensus building is an imperative and educational art form.
With public opposition rising against almost any kind of utility project or investment, collaboration among stakeholders with widely divergent points of view never has been more critical. Three recent utility cases demonstrate how a formal stakeholder collaboration process can build support for otherwise contentious decisions.
Can a European-style renewable model work in the Americas?
Mitchell Rothman and John Dalton
The Province of Ontario, Canada is the first jurisdiction in North America to implement a European style feed-in tariff (FIT). It also was the first jurisdiction in North America to have a comprehensive standard-offer program for electricity supply from renewables.
The future looks bright for distributed PV.
The future looks bright for distributed photovoltaics. New technologies and government policies are driving a revolution in PV manufacturing. But a robust national distributed generation system requires a grid that can accept two-way control of electrons.
Our economic future depends on adaptability.
Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief
For the past several months, analysts and pundits have been using the term “the new normal” to describe post-recession economic conditions. The phrase describes a variety of changes, from stock-market returns to personal savings rates, but it boils down to this: After the recession, the economy will go through a soft recovery, and it won’t return to pre-recession levels of financial and market activity in the mid-term future.
Utility projects advance the state of the art.
Given this dynamic state of evolution, it’s not surprising that next-generation technologies are undergoing their own difficult transitions. This transition is exemplified by four high-tech projects being executed by four electric utilities: Duke Energy, American Electric Power, Consolidated Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric. Their projects address different parts of the power-supply chain, and they’re taking different paths to secure financing and regulatory acceptance.
Modeling the value of various technologies and applications.
Ahmad Faruqui, Peter Fox-Penner and Ryan Hledik
As utilities announce new smart-grid programs, they need a strategic method for quantifying benefits. Analytical models generate baseline benefit estimates and reveal big-picture trends. Decision makers need the best resources available to mitigate risks in choosing a smart-grid strategy.
The intelligent grid cannot be achieved without energy storage.
Rick Nicholson and Nadav Enbar
While much has been written about the intelligent grid of late, little attention has been focused on the role of energy storage in achieving its expected benefits. Energy storage is an essential component of the intelligent grid. Energy storage provides greater grid integration of variable renewable energy resource output (e.g., wind, solar); improved system reliability via the provision of grid regulation services; and peak demand reductions and, in turn, deferred capital spending on new and upgraded transmission and distribution assets.
How solar PV could redraw the map for green energy and grid investment.
When Pacific Gas & Electric broke the news six weeks ago that it had signed a deal with Solaren Corp. to buy 200 MW of solar energy from satellites launched into geosynchronous orbit, the idea seemed almost laughable. Solaren’s plan is to catch unobstructed sunlight falling on arrays of photovoltaic solar panels deployed in the crystalline void of outer space, and then to convert the generated electricity into radio-frequency energy for transmission to Solaren’s ground-based receiving station outside Fresno. Welcome to the new renewable reality.
Chris O’Brien is no starry-eyed idealist. An engineer with an MBA, he began his career developing fossil-fired power plants for the AES Corp. But in the 1990s his career took a different turn, when he launched the Energy Star program for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. After that, he went into the solar energy business, and never has looked back.
Renewables attract utility investment dollars.
New federal policies have opened the gates to utility investments in renewable generating plants. Some states, however, still make it difficult for utilities to put such assets into the rate base. Executives at Duke, OG&E, PG&E and Xcel Energy discuss challenges and opportunities affecting their renewable investment strategies.