|Worth a read|
No one is "letting" distributed solar happen. In fact, it's becoming adopted despite countless institutionalized roadblocks. This interaction between Travis Bradford and Barry Cinnamon highlights a critical misunderstanding that many people have about how distributed solar will develop. We aren't waiting for utilities to let people install systems (via interconnection & net metering policies), and we actually don't need more incentives from the federal government (maybe these have only inflated installation prices anyways). While both these components have facilitated system installation in the short term, the greater driving trend is the narrowing gap between the retail rate for electricity and the installed cost of solar.
Net metering is serving a great purpose today in helping to grow solar but the electric utilities would like to see it go away because they lose money from it. At a much larger solar penetration rate than we have today, they would have to raise rates to cover the lost production and distribution charge revenue. At a TVA sponsored solar event last month, I heard multiple utility representatives talk about how this hypothetical problem should cause us to temper if not even retard current PV installations. Regardless of what happens to net metering, distributed solar is going to continue grow and because of the easily scalable nature of it, I'd bet it will be at an exponential rate as Ray Kurzweil's hypothesis would predict. Here are three reasons why I think so:
Solar is Easy to Install
Real Time Consumption of Solar Production
|No need for utility permission to buy less electricity by producing it locally|
Back Up Energy SystemsMany businesses and homes want or need back up generators to guarantee access to electricity during interruptions of grid service and they are willing to pay a premium above the retail rate for electricity to do so. Brown outs, ice storms, lightening, squirrels, etc. knock out power on a rather regular basis in some areas. For someone considering a generator, they'll need to figure in the cost of the fuel to power it, the transfer switch wiring in addition to generator itself. The generator will also have to cycle regularly to keep in optimal performance shape and fuel costs could be significant depending on whether the building has access to natural gas or not.
|Inverters offer energy arbitrage options in addition to battery backup functions|
Thomas Friedman called it the democratization of energy and this is exactly what solar offers. Individuals now have the option for the energy source of their own choosing. Utilities have a stranglehold on options just as telephone companies did before the advent of cell phones. How many of you even have a landline at your house anymore? How many of you will be at the mercy of electric utilities for service in 10 years? I think the numbers will be very similar.
We are like tenant farmers chopping down the fence around our house for fuel when we should be using Nature's inexhaustible sources of energy — sun, wind and tide. ... I'd put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don't have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.