"That solar raises the cost for other people who have to use the utility? wow, what horse poo"'
That's exactly what happened in Maine, when the major utilities caved on an individual grid reserve connection fee and instead backed a grid maintenance fee increase for EVERY rate payer and another black eye for solar.
And today's news from Germany:
"FRANKFURT -- Germany’s push toward renewable energy is causing so many drops and surges from wind and solar power that the government is paying more utilities than ever to help stabilize the country’s electricity grid."
Remember Maine has had net metering for a long time and much experience; however as aggressive solar sales people lobbied to set up solar farms and 'sell' the power to share holders using the grid for distribution and reserve backup; the utilities said 'enough'.
Lots of issues remain, and technical studies indicate grid instability will result and the government's ability to control power use through smart meters is diminished among other things, as is who pays for line & switch and backup reserve operation and maintenance.
Small hydro is on the State Government's front burner with both riverine, lake, and tidal generation capacity being assessed.
When you combine restored hydro with community and economic development using micro-grids, you have a very powerful incentive to go hydro, esp. given the other advantages of water storage, recreation and even restored fisheries and edible aquatic gardens....
The low costs of hydro, its 24/7 operation and long life span give it a significant advantage (R.O.I., etc.) over solar and wind; esp. in a state with thousands of fallow sites and dams that cannot be removed for various reasons, yet can be restored with naturalist migratory fish ways for those elusive salmon and smelts.
**btw...why don't solar sales people include the alternative investment of the cost of a solar system in their calculation, i.e. take the $25k for the solar system and invest it in 20 year mutual fund and calculate that into the overall cost of the power produced?
Municipalities in Maine are in the forefront of establishing micro-grids by working with waterfront developers to restore riverine and tidal power generation using innovative technology like Archimedes screws that not only can generated power from high vol./ low head rivers, but are very fish friendly, since they can be reversed to 'pump' upstream fish like shad which school.
Dams can be partially removed and replaced with weirs and I am researching pre-cast frames that can be dropped into a prepared 'slot' in the weir and 'screws' made locally of composites. This drops the cost well below either solar or wind alternatives and installation may be done in a day after site prep.
Cities in Maine have long run their own power plants, Madison, Presque Isle, and many have long abandoned their facilities; yet the rivers and civil works still exist. It has been estimated that Maine has approx. 55 MW in underutilized capacity. This did not include large tidal impounds which are filled on the incoming time and released on the outgoing tide with a differential of up to 11'.
The least expensive and most reliable power was from hydro plants run by municipalities. Delivering it to both public and private users is now a possibility with a micro-grid.
Grid connectivity is proving difficult, expensive and problematic for solar and wind farms because of the irregularity of the supply; while hydro is more stable and predictable and tidal the best of all.
ps. I am looking for firms with micro-grid experience and the ability to 'package' up grid connections with micro distribution.
Boulder has one of the greenest energy systems on the planet and the envy of most small cities. I can't believe the solar crowd wants to sacrifice it to sell PV.
What is wrong with this model that needs 'modification'?
"Since 1985, the City of Boulder hydroelectric program has turned water power into electricity, generated revenue, and provided sustainable, non-polluting electricity. The city owns and operates eight hydroelectric power plants, with one purchased and seven constructed over the last 20 years. The seven constructed power plants were installed on existing water supply pipelines. No new dams or overhead transmission lines - two of the negative impacts often associated with hydroelectric power - were built.
"Significant pressure develops as water flows downhill from the city’s mountain reservoirs to delivery systems in Boulder. Instead of mechanically reducing the excess pressure, the city converts it into energy by causing the flowing water to spin turbines that spin electrical generators to produce electricity. No fossil fuels are consumed and nothing is emitted in the energy conversion process."
Last week,I and 50 others were lectured by the president of Central Maine Power, now owned by EMERA, a global energy provider, on the technical details of grid instability caused by solar micro grids and the uneven flows through distributed generation of energy produced from remote and off shore Wind farms.
The prospect of having a large residential or commercial solar farm which can 'sell' power into the grid under net metering arrangements and when the sun stops shining, be backed up by the grid is crashing on the reality of how the fluctuations affect switches, reserves, etc.
The immediate response by solar/wind advocates is that generation redundancy, local backup, increased transmission, etc. will solve these problems.
Unfortunately, even ISO New England can't forecast the impact and growth of these generating points; so the responses are either going to be demand actuated, mostly natural gas, or inadequate.
In either case, the warning signs are obvious and the 'cure' is expensive; maintaining system backup and redundancy is raising the overall price of power. ---today's paper has the owner of a coffee shop complaining about how local power instability is ruining some expensive espresso machines; while the suggested cure was a $4,000 UPS and surge protector.
Canada has fastened on hydro-power's wealth of benefits and existing distribution networks as the best solution; meanwhile solar micro-grids are advised to be self-contained and self sufficient as possible and not rely on 'selling into the grid' or depending on it for periodic backup.
To make matters even worse, once the cloud of 'energy efficiency' improvements clears away we find residential use of electricity continues to climb. Now what?
Maine has thousands of low dams and diversion weirs that won't be removed since they are vital for nuturing watersheds, providing drinking water, flood &, ice control, providing reliable power 24/7, providing a huge habitat for many species of fish, birds and amphibians/freshwater clams, and recreation for a broad variety of users of every age.
The dream of restoring sea runs of migratory fish have evaporated with minuscule returns of salmon to the Penobscot, Kennebec and Androscoggin; despite millions spent on stocking programs. Even this year's ice fishing season was cut short by a darth of river herring.
In the words of one angler who closed his salmon fly fishing shop; the fishing sucks! Biologists now believe the problem lays far at sea; and not with impediments in the river, and paradoxically the alewives are plentiful and trucked upstream past large dams. Last year's fish viewing room at the Tophsam dam fish ladder was 8' deep in alewives, but no salmon!
Now for some good news!
There is a new generation--actually very old, of hydropower technology that's been enhanced, to both generate power and move migratory fish upstream during spawning and back to the sea. Archimedes screw turbines are longlived 'workhorse' devices that can be modularized for nearly instant installation, and can enable upstream fish migration, including 'pumping' them by reversing the screw.
Naturalistic fish 'ladder's can even be included to add a recreational and park like setting, as well as a feeding ground for a wide variety of birds--eagles and ospreys, esp. and a fishing ground for low income residents, and with some planning, a white water kayak course.
These are major improvements and enhancements now being considered by local groups concerned with renewable power with the widest range of benefits to the entire community. Once the benefits are totaled up, both solar and wind options pale in comparison. Maine will once again blossom with hydro powered industrial parks that blend residential, 'hi-tech' commerce and enterprise and recreation into an appealing complex.
Fishing, canoeing, inexpensive reliable micro-grid power, and a source of food for low income and other residents......it doesn't get any better than that!
Natural gas is being generated from organic human and other waste. It is then 'scrubbed' to pipeline quality to add to the existing stream of natural gas.
Having converted to natural gas, I and a charter school are experimenting this spring with home digesters for use by natural gas using residences.
The next step is to convert one of the vehicles to burn multi-fuels including compressed natural gas using a compressor in the garage to 'fill the tank'.
Maine's net metering law only credits your account for power put back into the grid; and doesn't pay you a production cost for it. This is a compromise that has been accepted and pretty much limits the size of a residential installation to zero out an electric bill annually. There are no carry over credits, you are zero'ed out every year.
Obviously, people want to simply get a check for the excess power they put into the grid and it would foster a 'gold rush' of entrepreneurs eager to get money from the utility. Solar and wind vendors are largely behind this shift but there are decades of regulatory law and practice behind the limitations that would have to be changed; the hook is the transmission of the power through feeder lines and switch modifications to handle surges when the sun comes out. Then there is the profit motive, with 'non-profit' corporations investing in large residential wind farms and selling shares.
Hawaii's problems with localized production will only be magnified should other states liberalize their regulation of residential production.
Maine is full of old tidal lagoons that once powered a variety of mills and manufacturing plants. While nearly all of them have been breached; with a bit of construction of automated gates and marine turbines they can be put back into service.
I don't think the author has done much research into the design and operation of tidal lagoons; perhaps a vacation in Maine would temper his 'we're first' enthusiasm and add a realistic dimension to his planning. The power of our 11' + tides is awesome!
Um, are beer and soda next?
'300 million people x 56 gallons per person x 3.78 liters per gallon x 6 grams of CO2 per liter soda / 1000 g per kg / 978 kg per ton = 389,570 tons of CO2 emitted by soft drinks yearly in America alone.'
Over the past decade, per capita use of electricity has gone up; despite all kinds of efficiency campaigns.
Despite all the CO2 curtailment programs the measurable percentage in the atmosphere has gone up and up.
There doesn't seem to be any correlation between 'warming' and CO2 concentrations....it's snowing again, temp is 25 F. When it snows we lose solar radiance and PV panels/vac. tubes are covered. When icing occurs, wind turbines are shut down for avg. of 9 days a year in the N.E. Electricity is used to slowly turn them. You'd be surprised how much electricity large wind turbines use.
Maine, too, is poised to profit from a flood of inexpensive Canadian hydro, all while looking at power from tidal and ocean currents.
Standing in the way is a web of political intricacies woven by large corporate wind farmers and Democratic politicians that blocks a rational shift away from subsidizing the unstable energy platform of wind and solar, and redeveloping our own extensive hydro potential and establishing an energy corridor to bring Canadian hydropower into N. New England---although, it appears with the pressure from the Canadian government on the White House both the gas pipeline and the electric transmission lines are now inching towards approval.
Wind subsidies and favored treatment exemptions are already on the chopping block, and anti wind sentiment is swaying decision-making on siting and subsidies.
Wind farming is not the bonanza for Maine's economy once promised; and the supply chain is looking elsewhere for future growth and revenue. The first step is funding a major project to map out potential tidal energy sites along the coast and among the many islands. It will be web based and enable the growing global interest in siting new energy extraction devices with detailed siting information---the Georgia Tech national data base released this past summer is too crude to use; our Atlas will have riparian rights, ecological issues, economic development potential, and prior civil works defined.
Consider it as the ultimate shopping guide for a turbine vendor or a site developer.
Also being planned for this summer is a workshop for property owners who own former mill sites and seek to harness the energy potential for use by their prospective tenants. Often they operate alone and face a daunting and expensive task satisfying 11+ different agencies in regarding hydropower permits. I am in constant contact with small town mill owners and this is a critical need to their being able to convert an old, but renewable mill, into a mixed use 'village' of retail, professional, manufacturing, and residential tenants/owners.
In Maine we have numerous plants that already do this and can store carbon away for up to 100 years at no cost. The technology is proven, been in use for a long time, and is readily employable in many different forms. There are many side benefits that include cleansing out other atmospheric pollutants, separating out the oxygen from the carbon and returning it to the atmosphere, and providing protection from solar radiation and heat.
Amazingly, they are for sale for $10 for a starter plant. Specify whether you prefer hardwood or software or species which maximize CO2 uptake like the Sugar Maple---which also produces a valuable crop.
Stored carbon can be pelletized for use in new clean boilers and wood pellet stoves.
Just send me your order via PAYPAL.