Would Steven care to adjust his cost figures to be comparable, i.e., include the value of government subsidies for coal, natural gas and nuclear energy production in the United States? That would elucidate the conversation (but perhaps defeat his purpose). We all pay for those subsidies through our taxes rather than on our utility bills.
For those without a $1875/year Platts subscription, the concept of real estate investment trusts and master limited partnerships (MLPs) are proposed in "Clean Tech Nation," a book that came out last September. In an interview (link below) the author explained how REITs and MLPs would be used. He also explains his proposal to eliminate all energy subsidies.
The high-tech aspect of this technique -- controlling when to charge and when to discharge -- is very important. There's a power loss at every conversion step (from electricity into H2, then again converting back to electricity). Utilities are desperate for not just storage, but power-dense storage with this kind of control.
Storage integrated with generation is essential to the long-term growth of renewables as a share of total energy generation. Denmark is doing this with wind and district heat, by heating water using excess wind energy, then storing the hot water.
I'm reading a book by Ayres and his INSEAD coauthor Benjamin Warr: "Energy & work as drivers of economic growth." They study the chicken-and-egg question of whether energy use is driven by economic growth, or the other way round. They lean toward the latter. If energy supply is finite, so is growth -- unless we learn to use energy more efficiently and generate more using renewable sources.
Outstanding report, Stephen! It's a very important question, and I enjoyed hearing the various perspectives on the answer.
We all need to be thinking in terms of building a 21st-century net-zero "ecopolis" in place of each 20th-century "petropolis."
That's a very clever way for project finance to tap into ARRA clean energy funds.
Siemens (the financier in the deal) is supplying some of the wind turbines for the expansion, but not all, as I understand it.
Siemens plays an interesting role in the industry, having energy offerings on both sides of the meter.
Smart grids and smart cities have an element of planned obsolescence.
In your EnerNOC interview I wondered whether "DR 2.0" equipment and applications will be open and compatible enough to reduce the high switching costs to go from one demand-response program to another. It generally takes an aggregator's customer about one year's DR program revenue to pay for the metering and other investments. Some portion of those investments become obsolete when switching aggregators.
I would also have been interested to know how Stockholm intends to develop the current-era planned city so it will adapt to changing public requisites. Stockholm implemented a city-wide comprehensive "planned city" with neighborhood units developed around the public-transit infrastructure. That was in the 1950s. Then along came the environmental movement of the 1970s, and Stockholm found that the older planning strategies were obsolete.
Will sustainability itself be sustainable? Let's check in on Beijing's Olympic Village in 25 years.
Globe 2008 had sessions on the exciting possibilities in sustainable development at the community level. There are symbiotic relationships between buildings that can create fortuitous advantages -- we just have to find the opportunities for synergy. In one very packed session on Zero Energy/Carbon Neutral Buildings, Joe Van Belleghem and Peter Busby presented excellent examples.
ZEBs and carbon-neutral buildings are the topic of the Building Priorities Briefing in April.
European utilities help deploy energy management systems that pay for themselves by reducing power consumption, with or without a demand response program. In "Pushing a Smart Grid" I argue that U.S. utilities should be making investments through financial support to their customers who want to adopt these technologies. Bob Zak points out the significant savings possible by investing in demand response for relatively few, large customers. It's not uncommon for a business to install energy management systems to enable load shedding on demand, then find they're saving energy year-round. See "Energy Efficiency Creates Unusual Alliance between Manufacturer and Utility" in Energy Priorities for an example.
It was exciting to see the changes at REW 2008. I enjoyed your Inside Renewable Energy podcast from the conference. I'll be posting 3 interesting podcast interviews from REW this week, to go with photos of some exhibits in the trade show and a report on Senator Reid's keynote.