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Energy and Resources - Solar 32 Items

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The Economics of Grid Defection: When and Where Distributed Solar Generation Plus Storage Competes with Traditional Utility Service (4-Pager)

Fact-sheet or One-pager, 2014

4 Page fact sheet detailing the spiral of falling sales and rising electricity prices that make defection via solar-plus systems even more attractive and undermine utilities' traditional business models


Lessons from Australia: Reducing Solar PV Costs Through Installation Labor Efficiency

Report or White Paper, 2014

The development of Australia’s solar market, and the drastic cost reductions it saw over a short period of time, emphasize that high market demand and transparency in costs is a key towards reducing soft costs. When the market is large enough, solar installers and retailers can rely more upon volume for profitability and can create reductions in soft costs in order to compete in the marketplace.


Reducing Solar PV Soft Cost: Focus on Installation Labor

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.


The Atlantic Mann Rebuttal

Journal or Magazine Article, 2013

On April 24, 2013, The Atlantic ran a cover feature by writer Charles C. Mann, “What If We Never Run Out of Oil?” The piece contained a number of inaccuracies, to which Rocky Mountain Institute co-founder and chief scientist Amory B. Lovins responded in a rebuttal the magazine posted on May 13, 2013. One day later, Mann offered a counter of his own, but perpetuated a range of errors. In this definitive reply, Lovins sets the record straight.


eLab Annual Report 2012-2013

Annual Report, 2013

In its first year, eLab made significant strides towards building the capacity of change agents in the electricity sector, fostering the development of new ideas and solutions, and engaging directly with leaders to test and implement new ideas that can ultimately scale broadly throughout the industry.


A Review of Solar PV Benefit and Cost Studies

Report or White Paper, 2013

This discussion document reviews 15 DPV benefit/cost studies by utilities, national labs, and other organizations to determine what is known and unknown about the categorization, methodological best practices, and gaps around the benefits and costs of DPV.  It also begins to establish a clear foundation from which additional work on benefit/cost assessments and pricing structure design can be built.


Developing Solar Friendly Communities: Permitting, Interconnection, and Net Metering: An Overview of Model Standards and Policy Design Criteria

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.


Achieving Low-Cost Solar PV: Industry Workshop Recommendations for Near-Term Balance of System Cost Reductions

Report or White Paper, 2010

This report synthesizes the specific design strategies and technical and process best practices that emerged from RMI’s June 2010 “Solar PV Balance of System” design charrette. BoS costs—all the upfront costs associated with a PV system except the module—account for over half of PV system cost and pose a barrier to widespread adoption. The charrette process identified many opportunities that could offer the potential to reduce balance of system costs to $0.60 - $0.90/watt, a 45 percent to 65 percent reduction over current best practices. This report quantifies and prioritizes cost reduction strategies and provides detail on specific recommendations to reduce costs.

The related presentation (RMI document ID 2010-17) and executive summary (RMI document ID 2010-20) are also available.


Keeping the Lights on While Transforming Electric Utilities

Journal or Magazine Article, 2010
This article discusses the new electricity paradigm required of electric utilities in the face of climate change, energy security concerns, and disruptive technologies. The new paradigm for utilities is based on energy efficiency, demand response, renewables, energy storage, and distributed generation.


2010 Micropower Database (September)

Guide, 2010

2010 (September) 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 from 1990 through 2008 or 2009 is available, as well as forecasts through 2013. Available information includes global annual capacity additions and output, global cumulative capacity, and capacity factor. The Micropower Database Methodology is also included here. The 2008 Micropower Database (RMI ID E05-04) and the 2010 (May) Edition (RMI ID 2010-06) are also available.

Note: A more recent version of 2014 Micropower Database (September) (RMI ID 2010-14) is now available. This update to the database incorporates recently released data that change the total installed micropower capacity by 2.9%.


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