The Smart Grid and Distributed Generation: A Glimpse of a Distant Future

By Kent Hawkins -- April 28, 2011 10 Comments

A smart grid/distributed generation combination could have a large role to play in the future of electricity systems in terms of both supply and use. But it is incorrectly being touted as the solution to our perceived electricity problems in the short term, that is for the next 10 to 20 years. Meaningful fulfillment of a “smart” grid and/or extensive Distributed Generation could be a half-century away, even more. Therefore, early, extensive, and expensive initiatives that claim to be on the “right track” are very likely to be on the wrong track later.

Is the right track (1) upgrading the grid capacity and implementing new transmission lines to facilitate the integration of utility-scale wind and solar or (2) the implementation of smart meters to match (read restrict) demand to the erratic and unreliable supply of these?

Continue Reading

Wind Consequences (Part IV – Subsidies and Emissions)

By Kent Hawkins -- September 25, 2012 4 Comments

This post is part of a five-part series on the adverse consequences of imposing industrial-scale wind plants on electricity systems. The series shows that there is no valid reason to pursue the policy of implementing new renewable energy sources in electricity generation, especially wind.

This post provides more information on the subsidies and emissions considerations for the scenarios summarized in Part I. Parts II and III dealt with cost implications. Part V this Thursday will focus on a number of other issues providing a complete picture of wind’s undesirability and unfeasibility in all respects.

Part I also provides links to the rest of the series.


Because subsidy issues are often raised, comparing those for wind and other generation plants, it is appropriate to show their effect on a MWh basis, regardless of the absolute amounts.

Continue Reading

Wind Consequences (Part II: Analysis Approach and Implementation Costs)

By Kent Hawkins -- September 18, 2012 No Comments

Part I yesterday provided an introduction and summary of results; this post describes in more detail the analysis approach and implementation costs. Parts III and IV will cover the full costs and other results.

As will be seen, dealing with wind is not as easy as some would suggest.

Analysis Approach

This analysis looks at a 13 year period (years 0-12) in which the demand growth and plant retirement due to obsolescence/age will be each 2% per year compounded. Assuming year 0 is 2012, year 12 is 2025. Table II-1 shows the situation at year 12.

Table II-1 – Year 12 Situation for a Year 0 Demand Level of 1.0 TWh

T II-1

Using demand of 1 TWh in year 0 allows easy scaling for a particular jurisdiction. For example in 2010 the total US electricity production was about 4,000 TWh.

Continue Reading

Beyond Solyndra: Solar Energy's On-Grid Torment

By Gary Hunt -- October 13, 2011 7 Comments

In Solar Energy Tough Love, I described the perverse impacts of government industrial policy on the solar energy sector in its vainglorious attempt to choose winners and losers.  That policy is failing, Solyndra aside. 

The market gods hate to be trifled with, and they respond with thunderbolts and torment.  Solar’s pain will continue until grid parity is reached. In the meantime, the solar energy sector must purge itself of government subsidies and address its weak financial performance.

So when I read the story in the trade press about SunPower’s wider Q2 losses I decided to get beyond the numbers to look at some of the market factors tormenting the solar business and holding back its true potential.

One key fact is that solar energy demand is up, but so are input costs for solar panels. 

Continue Reading

Smart Meter Chaos: Maryland PSC Gets Real (consumerism, anyone?)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- June 25, 2010 13 Comments Continue Reading

The Sierra Club: How Support for Industrial Wind Technology Subverts Its History, Betrays Its Mission, and Erodes Commitment to the Scientific Method (Part I)

By Jon Boone -- April 17, 2010 16 Comments Continue Reading

‘The People vs. Cap-and-Tax’: James Hansen and the Left’s Civil War on Climate Policy

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- January 17, 2010 7 Comments Continue Reading

Texas’s “Solar Session” Fails to Enact Renewable Mandate #3 (a reality check for a federal RES?)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- June 9, 2009 7 Comments Continue Reading

Smart Grid, Dumb Economics

By Jerry Taylor -- February 24, 2009 18 Comments Continue Reading

Green Party Platform (Part II: Energy)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- October 7, 2020 1 Comment Continue Reading