Listed below are all documents and RMI.org site pages related to this topic.
Energy and Resources - Renewables 47 Items
2014 (July) Edition: The purpose of the micropower database is to present a clear, rigorous, and independent assessment of the global capacity and electrical output of micropower (all renewables, except large hydro, and cogeneration), showing its development over time and documenting all data and assumptions. With minor exceptions, this information is based on bottom-up, transaction-by-transaction equipment counts reported by the relevant suppliers and operators, cross-checked against assessments by reputable governmental and intergovernmental technical agencies. For most technologies, historic data runs from 1990 through 2013. Available information includes installed capacity (GW) and electricity generation (TWh/y) per generating technology. The Micropower Database Methodology is also included in this ZIP-file. For previous versions, please see the 2008 Micropower Database (RMI ID E05-04) and the 2010 (May) Edition (RMI ID 2010-06).
Journal or Magazine Article, Letter, 2014
A May 2014 working paper by nonresident Brookings Institute fellow Dr. Charles Frank, highlighted in The Economist, claims that wind and solar power are the least, while nuclear power and combined-cycle gas generation are the most, cost-effective ways to displace coal-fired power. (He didn't assess efficiency.) This detailed twelve-page critique by RMI's Amory Lovins shows that those priorities are artifacts of Dr. Frank's obsolete data. Replacing nine of his wrong numbers with up-to-date empirical ones, even without correcting his methodology, reverses his priorities to the ones most energy experts would expect: after efficiency, the best buys are hydropower (on his purely economic assumptions), then windpower, photovoltaics, gas combined-cycle (assuming 1.5% methane leakage and medium price volatility—assuming zero price volatility would put gas ahead of solar), and last of all nuclear power. Dr. Frank argued that the way most investors pick power-sector investments—lowest long-run economic cost—is wrong, or at least incomplete, because different technologies generate power at different times, creating different amounts of value. He's right that value as well as cost should be considered. But interestingly, using correct data, the cost- and value-based calculations yield the same priorities, so adjusting for time of generation doesn't matter. Those priorities would probably be further reinforced (other than big and some small hydropower) if other kinds of hidden costs, risks, and benefits were also considered. The more obvious of Dr. Frank's data problems were assuming wind and solar power half as productive and twice as costly as they actually are, gas power twice as productive as it actually is but with no methane leakage or price volatility (let alone extractive side-effects of fracking), nuclear power at about half its actual cost and construction time and one-fifth its actual operating cost, a supposed need for new generating capacity and for bulk electricity storage, and no efficiency opportunities worth mentioning. His method of analyzing grid reliability was also unique and strange. These assumptions drove his unwarranted but, thanks to the Economist, widely publicized conclusions.
Dr. Frank argued that the way most investors pick power-sector investments—lowest long-run economic cost—is wrong, or at least incomplete, because different technologies generate power at different times, creating different amounts of value. He's right that value as well as cost should be considered. But interestingly, using correct data, the cost- and value-based calculations yield the same priorities, so adjusting for time of generation doesn't matter. Those priorities would probably be further reinforced (other than big and some small hydropower) if other kinds of hidden costs, risks, and benefits were also considered.
Journal or Magazine Article, 2014
Please find below a collection of Amory Lovins' articles on Germany's energy transition, organized from new to old.
How Opposite Energy Policies Turned The Fukushima Disaster Into A Loss For Japan And A Win For Germany (Forbes, June 2014)
Separating Fact from Fiction in Accounts of Germany's Renewables Revolution (RMI blog, August 2013)
Debunking the Renewables' Disinformation Campaign (RMI blog, July 2013)
Germany's Renewables Revolution (RMI blog, April 2013)
Report or White Paper, 2013
The current issue of Global Energy Affairs features two unique perspectives on nuclear energy. Amory Lovins highlights how Germany, unlike Japan, utilized its decision to abandon nuclear energy to create a revolution in efficiency and renewable energy. Malcolm Grimston contends that despite a highly favorable environment for nuclear development in the UK, the market response remains weak. Sheril Kirshenbaum highlights how the public opinion in the U.S. contributes to defining global energy priorities. Audi’s e-gas car and tracking progress of Masdas City are the projects of this month. News highlights, innovations, and briefs cover recent major developments in the field of energy and environment. Roel Sweirenga’s reflections on the on Sustainable Mobility for the Decade 2014- 2024 and the profile of Quale Hodek, a young leader in renewable energy, completes this issue
Report or White Paper, 2013
Distributed solar energy is a key enabler of the affordable, resilient, secure, and low-carbon electricity future Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) advocates in Reinventing Fire.1 However, in order for distributed solar to play its role, a number of changes must transpire. The most pressing of these changes is for solar costs to come down to U.S. Department of Energy SunShot levels that enable deployment of cost-effective solar systems across the U.S. Between 2008 and 2012, the price of sub-10-kilowatt rooftop systems decreased 37%. However, over 80% of the cost decline is attributable to decreasing solar PV module costs.2 Of the average $4.93/W3 cost of a residential rooftop solar system, over 60% of the total is now attributable to “soft costs,” including those associated with installation labor; permitting, inspection, and interconnection (PII); customer acquisition; financing costs; and installer / integrator margin.4 With module and inverter costs predicted to stabilize at relatively low levels between now and 2020, these soft costs must come down in order for solar energy to be cost competitive across the U.S.
Report or White Paper, 2013
Fort Collins Utilities has been working to meet its clean energy goals including a flagship effort, called FortZED, to build a net zero energy district in downtown Fort Collins.
Fort Collins Utilities and its partners worked with the Electricity Innovation Lab (e-Lab) to design and carry-out a two-day charrette on November 7th and 8th, 2012. The charrette team identified innovative solutions to some of Fort Collins’ most difficult challenges around planning, investment, and execution of efficiency and renewable energy.
Journal or Magazine Article, 2013
In the United States, which trades three-fifths of its electricity in competitive markets, the prohibitive capital cost of new nuclear power plants ensures that only a handful will be built. Nonetheless, with 40-year licenses being extended to 60 years, the 104 existing reactors’ relatively low generating costs are widely expected to justify decades of continued operation. But the generating costs of aging reactors have been rising, while competitors, including modern renewables, show rapidly falling total costs—and those opposed cost curves have begun to intersect. An expanding fraction of well-running nuclear plants is now challenged to compete with moderating wholesale power prices, while plants needing major repairs or located in regions rich in wind power increasingly face difficult choices of whether to run or close. Thus, even without events that might accelerate nuclear phase-out, as the Fukushima disaster did in Germany, shifting competitive conditions have begun to drive a gradual US nuclear phase-out. Its economics are illuminated by a detailed energy scenario that needs no nuclear energy, coal, or oil and one-third less natural gas to run a 158 percent bigger US economy in 2050—but cuts carbon emissions by 82 to 86 percent and costs $5 trillion less. That scenario’s 80-percent-renewable, 50-percent-distributed, equally reliable, and more resilient electricity system would cost essentially the same as a business-as-usual version that sustains nuclear and coal power, but it would better manage all the system’s risks. Similarly comprehensive modeling could also analyze faster nuclear
phase-out if desired.
Report or White Paper, 2012
Over the past several years, procedures and policies surrounding permitting, inspection, interconnection, and net metering of distributed photovoltaic (PV) systems have been the subject of extensive analysis and scrutiny, given their substantial contribution to solar costs. This ongoing period of critical analysis has produced a wide variety of process innovations and model standards capable of streamlining processes for local governments and reducing solar PV costs. As a member of the Colorado-based “Solar Friendly Communities” team under the Rooftop Solar Challenge, Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) has evaluated a number of these standards, innovations, and policy design criteria and developed some specific recommendations. This document surveys a subset of existing permitting, interconnection, and net metering processes and is meant to serve as an initial point of inquiry for interested local governments and communities.
Report or White Paper, 2012
The prolonged shut-down of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) in Southern California could mark an important turning point for the region’s electricity system. Distributed and demand-side resources offer a portfolio of solutions to help fill the near-term supply gap, while also advancing California’s long-term goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and supporting local economic development and job creation. This discussion paper assesses the role the following distributed energy resources could play in the absence of SONGS: behavioral savings; demand response;
energy efficiency; solar photovoltaics; combined heat and power and fuel cells; storage. That paper includes information on what the potentials for these resources are, how their economics affect adoption, how much time it takes to install them, and how long we expect them to persist. We also offer recommendations to unlock these resources and encourage their adoption by utilities and their customers.
Conference Proceedings, 2012
This paper explores the challenges and opportunities available for the electricity and buildings industries as the adoption of distributed generation, energy efficiency, and zero net energy designs grow.