Tag Archives: residential solar

Demand Destruction from Home

Demand destruction is what coal mining companies, utilities, and anyone who benefits from a centrally controlled power grid dreads.  Why?  Demand destruction represents an existential threat to the entire business model of these entities.

Consider the state of Iowa’s electricity generation mix and my recently installed solar photovoltaic system.  Iowa’s electricity generation mix breaks down like this for April of 2017:

Iowa Energy Chart.gif

In Iowa non-hydroelectric renewables usually equals wind given the relatively low penetration of solar photovoltaic generation.  Another caveat is that the wind tends to blow strongly in the spring and demand for electricity has not spiked with the onset of the summer air conditioning season.

Now consider the impact of a solar photovoltaic system, mine or someone else’s.  When that demand leaves the grid, so to speak, what generation sources do you think will be curtailed?  In order I think it would be coal, nuclear, natural gas, and finally wind.  Why?  Wind turbines do not have a recurring fuel cost, so the cost to retire them does not include a perpetuity of fuel cost baked in which can be a significant driver for an asset with a long life.

In other terms, do you keep generating power by paying to burn a fuel or just harvest the wind for free?  In business school the number one lesson I learned in marketing was to not compete with free.  You will lose every time.

So, as demand disappears from the grid as a result of distributed residential solar the traditional fossil fuel sources are forced to compete with installed and cheap wind power for a dwindling number of customers.  I exaggerate to some degree to get the point across, but in Iowa this may not be such a moot point given the plans for wind power development in the next three years.

Depending upon how you measure it Iowa has more than 6,900 megawatts of wind power providing anywhere from 35% to 40% of the state’s electricity.  This is great news in and of itself, but the state’s two major utilities—MidAmerican Energy and Alliant Energy—have announced investments for an additional 3,000 megawatts or more by 2020.  Just with these additions—barring any additional activity by other energy players—would bring Iowa nearly 10,000 megawatts of wind power and give the state the capacity to produce more than 50% of its electricity from the wind.  This is without a significant portion of the state’s electricity demand being displaced by distributed residential solar or energy efficiency.

As you can see from the chart that when the wind blows heavily, which it tends to do in the spring, wind is already the largest source of electricity generation in the state.  That trend was true for February, March, and April of 2017. This is only going to grow in the future.

Our homes can be the drivers of change for a cleaner and greener world.

Friday Linkage 2/17/2012

If I thought the Republican presidential primary was the gift that kept on giving, Darrell Issa is a winning lottery ticket.  The guy never ceases to amaze me, but then again he never ceases to really surprise me either.  He comes from the same cut of cloth as Newt Gingrich where power is everything and hypocrisy means nothing.  His latest stunt in a hearing about birth control and religion is a new low. Barring any women from testifying on women’s health issues seems like something out of the Soviet Union.  Then again, these are the people who do not want anyone to legislate morality unless it is their morality.

Then again, is there anything better than watching the battle royale between Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and a fading New Gingrich.

On to the links…

New Cars are 14% More Efficient than Four Years Ago–Hooray!  Maybe we are finally getting smarter and not thinking that we need a Hummer to commute 3 miles in Florida.  Here is another possibility…50 mpg for $19K?

The Blowback Continues for Stephen Bloom–The guy is a jack ass.  And it looks like his characterization of the state of Iowa, done to salve some psychic misfortune, is really not all that unique or accurate.  Who would have thought Hawaii was #1 on the newly created “Bloom Index?”

Beware the Poisons Lurking in Your Car–Great, I just bought a new car.  Now I need to worry about the deadly new car smell and all the other bad stuff that is lurking in the interior.  The world is really out to try and get me.

If You Were 95% Dependent on Imported Oil You Would Want EVs Too–Hawaii is a great place for the renewable energy and EV revolution to really take hold.  Electricity is expensive, gasoline is expensive, and everything is imported save for  small slice of renewables.  The only thing that bums me out about Hawaii is that HECO and the other island power grids seem so slow to embrace renewables.

12.4% of Europe Powered by Renewables–Pretty self explanatory.

Can Phoenix go Green?–Phoenix is a wasteland and the modern example of American development–unchecked, sprawling, and totally unsustainable.  Can it go green and take a different path?

Residential Solar Soars in Japan–I could have made a lame reference to residential solar installations exploding, but that seems in poor taste.  It did not stop the authors of the article from doing it.  The point is, however, that distributed residential solar can be a major player in the drive toward a diversified and sustainable portfolio of energy options.

McMansion Trend Has Peaked–It looks like the national obsession in the United States with ever bigger homes has finally ebbed.  Thank god.  How many more Real Housewives spinoffs could Bravo come up with for people to showcase their faux Tuscan villas?  Coming in 2013, the Real Housewives of Columbus!  Watch out Urban Meyer, these Buckeye faithful have claws…

Headless Chicken Solution–Okay, it’s not headless chickens.  It’s chickens without brains.  Huh?  At what point do we just realize that our food production system’s goals are totally out of step with humanity.  Maybe we should just put down the buffalo chicken wrap and fries in order to start thinking about the impact that our food choices have on ourselves, our environment, and the animals that we eat.

McDonald’s to Stop Sourcing Meat from Companies that Use Sow Crates–I thought I had heard everything bad there was to hear about industrial meat production.  Then this comes along.  Who comes up with these ways to treat animals?  Sick bastards.

Michael Pollan goes Stop Motion–It’s not quite like Harold and Kumar going claymation, but I digress.  Michael Pollan seems to be everywhere these days and that is a good thing because the gospel he is preaching about food is simple and right on the money.

Not Just the Choice Cuts–It’s not just the search for value that is driving people to the choice cuts, but the concept of using the whole animal to nourish ourselves.  It seems so wasteful to disregard whole portions of an animal because the cuts do not conform to what we believe to be delicious.  Everything but the oink baby!