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Germany opens Free Charging Station 17 Corporations Slash utility bills 18 ukeiley on protecting Fish 19
World’s Largest Power Tower Goes Live In April, Abengoa Solar (abengoasolar.
com) began commercial operation of its second solar power tower plant at the Solúcar Platform, near Seville, Spain. PS20 features a higher efficiency receiver, improved control systems and a better thermal energy storage system than the first tower. These systems bring
power capacity to 20 megawatts, double that of the original PS10 tower. PS20 consists of
a solar field made up of 1,255 mirrored heliostats, each with a surface area of 1,291 square
feet (120 square meters). The 531-foot tower produces steam to drive a turbine generator.
Berkeley Posts Solar Map
A year ago, several SOLAR TODAY readers wrote in suggesting that Google Earth mapping software could be adapted
to solar energy planning. We’ve now seen several of these
mash-ups. The slickest and most appealing was put together by
CH2MHill Enterprise Spatial Solutions for the city of Berkeley,
Calif. ( berkeley.solarmap.org). It shows about 650 solar installations. Zoom in on any array and get a pretty nice view of the
roof and yard, as if you were hovering in a balloon about 300
feet up. What’s interesting is the relative dearth of commercial
installations. If you want to patronize a solar-cooled grocery
store, for instance, you’re out of luck for now — even Berkeley Bowl has a naked roof. But a few apartment buildings and
medical facilities have arrays.
by BILL BLOMBERg
bill blomberg is an
independent energy-efficiency and renewable
energy consultant in
boulder, Colo. Contact him
Opponents complain about subsidies paid to encourage efficiency improvements, implying that subsidies
are bad. But in fact, payments for efficiency are not
subsidies at all, but commissions.
A commission is compensation for a service rendered to
another. A building owner who improves his building’s energy
efficiency reduces the community’s power requirements overall. The owner may realize a modest saving over the long run,
but the community realizes immediate benefits: Fewer power
plants are needed; development and fuel costs are eliminated
or delayed. Paying people to reduce their grid power consumption offsets paying other people to build or expand, run, fuel
and maintain power plants.
Incentive commissions offer several important advantages
over power plant expansion:
• Efficiency improvements don’t pollute and are immune to
the costs of future pollution regulations.
• They are immune to fuel price rises and price instability.
• They reduce the need for ugly, contentious, property val-ue-destroying and resource-hungry centralized plants, with
their associated transmission line losses and costs.
These benefits, paid for by the property owner, accrue to the
entire community, especially to utility owners and customers.
The benefits would constitute a “free” value to utilities and
ratepayers. That would be, in effect, a subsidy by the innovator
to everyone else. A payment to the improving property owner
is therefore properly called a reimbursement, co-pay or commission. The one thing it is not is a “subsidy.”
The Sierra Club calculates that energy efficiency (
insulating, replacing obsolete windows, purchasing energy-efficient
appliances, etc.) costs 3.1 cents per kilowatt-hour saved, compared to the cost of coal at 4. 5 to 5. 4 cents per kilowatt-hour
generated. Photovoltaic costs 12. 4 to 26 cents per kilowatt-hour. Other technologies fall within the 5 to 10 cent range. The
number one, cheapest option is efficiency. It’s 31 to 42 percent
cheaper than coal, even if we ignore the value of the cleanliness
and long-term price stability of efficiency. Clearly, it’s cheaper
to pay our neighbor a percentage of $3 to reduce his demand
or install solar than it is to pay $5 for central power. This is just
straightforward, and fair, economics.