Tag Archives: “peak load”

Net Metering in California: Megawatts and jobs

Net metering of solar energy works fine in California, where it increasingly provides electricity to meet peak demand. Georgia has a 2001 law that requires power utilities to do a version of net metering, but it’s a weak version and there’s a low cap on how much you can sell back to the utility.

The Georgia version, according to GEFA:

Net metering is the process whereby an energy consumer produces energy and then sells some or all of this energy to the “grid”, or major energy producers in the state. Under Georgia’s net metering laws, state residents and businesses can purchase and operate green energy capital, including photovoltaics, wind energy and fuel cells, and use this energy on-site. These residents and businesses may then sell any un-used, additional energy produced on-site to their energy provider. There is a maximum of 10 kilowatts (kW) for residential applications and up to 100 kW for commercial applications.
As you can see by GEFA’s pie chart, solar energy was too small to chart as a source of energy in Georgia as of 2004. With solar, we can burn less coal and uranium.

Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has a report, Solar Net Metering in California,

Protecting Net energy metering (NEM) is the top policy priority of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) for California in 2012. NEM is a billing arrangement that allows utility customers to offset some or all of their energy use (up to 1 MW) with selfgenerated renewable energy.
The definition sounds the same, except for the cap: 1 megawatt is 1000 kilowatts, so California’s current cap is 100 times the Georgia residential cap and 10 times the Georgia commercial cap, with apparently no distinction between residential and commercial.

The result is this: Continue reading

Solar: jobs, leadership, grid, independence, and health

Peak power when you need it: solar. Somebody has been studying it, and addressing problems local decisionmakers right here in south Georgia have been raising.

Solar Power Generation in the US: Too expensive, or a bargain? by Richard Perez, ASRC, University at Albany, Ken Zweibel, GW Solar Institute, George Washington University, Thomas E. Hoff, Clean Power Research. That’s Albany, New York, but it applies even more to Albany, Georgia and Lowndes County, Georgia, since we’re so much farther south, with much more sun.

Let’s cut to the chase:

The fuel of heat waves is the sun; a heat wave cannot take place without a massive local solar energy influx. The bottom part of Figure 2 illustrates an example of a heat wave in the southeastern US in the spring of 2010 and the top part of the figure shows the cloud cover at the same time: the qualitative agreement between solar availability and the regional heat wave is striking. Quantitative evidence has also shown that the mean availability of solar generation during the largest heat wave driven rolling blackouts in the US was nearly 90% ideal (Letendre et al. 2006). One of the most convincing examples, however, is the August 2003 Northeast blackout that lasted several days and cost nearly $8 billion region wide (Perez et al., 2004). The blackout was indirectly caused by high demand, fueled by a regional heat wave3. As little as 500 MW of distributed PV region wide would have kept every single cascading failure from feeding into one another and precipitating the outage. The analysis of a similar subcontinental scale blackout in the Western US a few years before that led to nearly identical conclusions (Perez et al., 1997).

In essence, the peak load driver, the sun via heat waves and A/C demand, is also the fuel powering solar electric technologies. Because of this natural synergy, the solar technologies deliver hard wired peak shaving capability for the locations/regions with the appropriate demand mix peak loads driven by commercial/industrial A/C that is to say, much of America. This capability remains significant up to 30% capacity penetration (Perez et al., 2010), representing a deployment potential of nearly 375 GW in the US.

The sun supplies solar power when you need it: at the same time the sun drives heat waves.

The paper identifies the problem I’ve encountered talking to local policy makers, especially ones associated with power companies: Continue reading

Detroit cuts power due to heat: too bad they didn’t have solar

AP reported 10 June 2011, Half the country wilts under unrelenting heat:
Detroit officials intentionally cut power to city hall and a convention center Thursday to prevent the municipal power system from crashing from high energy demand — even though temperatures had tapered to the 70s after two days above 90. Equipment failures knocked out power to several other government buildings and traffic lights in parts of the downtown.

“Because there was a short window of time, we had to make a decision to take some of our customers off to prevent a blackout of the entire city,” Detroit mayoral spokeswoman Karen Dumas said.

Too bad they didn’t have solar, which would have provided peak power at peak load.


Why solar cuts it better than any other energy source

Solar power is the fastest growing industry in the world, and south Georgia is an excellent place for it to grow and produce jobs, with plenty of rooftops and parking lots for solar panels.

This is despite the misinformation people with vested interests in other energy sources put out about solar power. After Dr. Matthew Richard made some points about solar vs. biomass, one of the members of the 6 December 2010 panel that VLCIA spent more than $17,000 to assemble to defend biomass responded that he was in favor of the nearby 300kWatt solar plant, but: well, I’m going to interleave his buts with what he’s ignoring. Continue reading