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Land-Use Requirements for Solar Power Plants in the United States

August 13, 2013 Comments off

Land-Use Requirements for Solar Power Plants in the United States (PDF)
Source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory (DoE)

By the third quarter of 2012, the United States had deployed more than 2.1 gigawatts (GWac1 ) of utility-scale solar generation capacity, with 4.6 GWac under construction as of August 2012 (SEIA 2012). Continued growth is anticipated owing to state renewable portfolio standards and decreasing system costs (DOE 2012a). One concern regarding large-scale deployment of solar energy is its potentially significant land use. Efforts have been made to understand solar land use estimates from the literature (Horner and Clark 2013); however, we were unable to find a comprehensive evaluation of solar land use requirements from the research literature. This report provides data and analysis of the land use associated with U.S. utility-scale2 ground-mounted photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP) facilities.

After discussing solar land-use metrics and our data-collection and analysis methods, we present total and direct land-use results for various solar technologies and system configurations, on both a capacity and an electricity-generation basis. The total area corresponds to all land enclosed by the site boundary. The direct area comprises land directly occupied by solar arrays, access roads, substations, service buildings, and other infrastructure. We quantify and summarize the area impacted, recognizing that the quality and duration of the impact must be evaluated on a case-bycase basis. As of the third quarter of 2012, the solar projects we analyze represent 72% of installed and under-construction utility-scale PV and CSP capacity in the United States. Table ES-1 summarizes our land-use results.

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U.S. Renewable Energy Technical Potentials: A GIS-Based Analysis

August 2, 2012 Comments off

U.S. Renewable Energy Technical Potentials: A GIS-Based Analysis (PDF)
Source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory
From press release:

A new study of renewable energy’s technical potential finds that every state in the nation has the space and resource to generate clean energy.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory produced the study, U.S. RE Technical Potential, which looks at available renewable resources in each state. It establishes an upper-boundary estimate of development potential. Economic or market restraints would factor into what projects might actually be deployed.

The report is valuable for decision-makers and utility executives because it compares estimates across six renewable energy technologies and unifies assumptions and methods. It shows the achievable energy generation of a particular technology given resource availability – solar, wind, geothermal availability, etc. — system performance, topographic limitations, and environmental and land-use constraints.

The study includes state-level maps and tables containing available land area (square kilometers), installed capacity (gigawatts), and electric generation (gigawatt-hours) for each technology.

See: Renewable Energy Potential in Every U.S. State, Study Shows (Science Daily)

Clean Energy Innovation: Sources of Technical and Commercial Breakthroughs

June 10, 2011 Comments off

Clean Energy Innovation: Sources of Technical and Commercial Breakthroughs
Source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory (U.S. Department of Energy)

Low-carbon energy innovation and implementation is essential to combat climate change, promote economic competitiveness, and achieve energy security. Our study of clean energy patenting in the United States is undertaken to elicit fundamental trends and implications that can inform public and private innovation investment, resulting in greater efficiency of research and development programs. Using U.S. patent data and additional patent-relevant data collected from the Internet, we map the landscape of low-carbon energy innovation in the United States since 1975. We isolate 10,603 renewable and 10,442 traditional energy patents and develop a database that characterizes proxy measures for technical and commercial impact, as measured by patent citations and Web presence, respectively. Regression models and multivariate simulations are used to compare the social, institutional, and geographic drivers of breakthrough clean energy innovation. Results indicate statistically significant effects of social, institutional, and geographic variables on technical and commercial impacts of patents and unique innovation trends between different energy technologies. We observe important differences between patent citations and Web presence of licensed and unlicensed patents indicating the potential utility of using screened Web hits as a measure of commercial importance. We offer hypotheses for these revealed differences and suggest a research agenda with which to test these hypotheses. These preliminary findings indicate that leveraging empirical insights to better target research expenditures could augment the speed and scale of innovation and deployment of clean energy technologies.

Solar for schools: a case study in identifying and implementing solar photovoltaic (PV) projects in three California school districts

June 10, 2011 Comments off

Solar for schools: a case study in identifying and implementing solar photovoltaic (PV) projects in three California school districts (PDF)
Source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory (U.S. Department of Energy)

The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Solar America Showcase program seeks to accelerate demand for solar technologies among key end use market sectors. As part of this activity, DOE provides technical assistance through its national laboratories to large-scale, high-visibility solar installation projects.

The Solar Schools Assessment and Implementation Project (SSAIP) in the San Francisco Bay Area was selected for a 2009 DOE Solar America Showcase award. SSAIP was formed through the efforts of the nonprofit Sequoia Foundation and includes three school districts: Berkeley, West Contra Costa, and Oakland Unified School Districts.

This paper summarizes the technical assistance efforts that resulted from this technical assistance support. It serves as a case study and reference document detailing the steps and processes that could be used to successfully identify, fund, and implement solar photovoltaics (PV) projects in school districts across the country.

Consumer Attitudes About Renewable Energy: Trends and Regional Differences

June 8, 2011 Comments off

Consumer Attitudes About Renewable Energy: Trends and Regional Differences (PDF)
Source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory

  • The majority of consumers (80%) indicated that they care about the use of renewable energy. However, concern has diminished slightly over time, which is consistent with other broad environmental consumer attitudes (such as concerns related to environmental protection or sustainable agriculture).
  • Consumers primarily associate renewable energy with environmental benefits, despite the other potential benefits renewable energy has to offer and the recent efforts to broaden its appeal.
  • Consumer awareness of renewable energy purchase options remains relatively low, with approximately one in six consumers aware of the green power options provided by their electric suppliers, although approximately half of consumers have options available to them.
  • Consumers are more price sensitive for renewable energy than in the past, mirroring an increased price sensitivity NMI has observed across the green consumer landscape.
  • Despite the common perception, there are few differences in consumer attitudes across regions. However, consumers in the West are more aware of renewable energy terminology, such as renewable power and carbon footprint. In addition, Western consumers, compared to Midwestern consumers, are more aware of their purchase options, are less price sensitive, and are more likely to have already purchased at least some type of renewable energy.
  • Seven percent of the adult population reports buying at least some renewable energy for their home. According to similar research, this is a significantly lower percentage than the proportion of the population that cares about renewable energy and a higher percentage than penetration rates reported by utilities and marketers that offer renewable energy options to consumers.
  • Opportunities exist for continued market growth in renewable energy as indicated by the differential between concern and usage and declining premiums. However, the modest awareness levels of renewable energy options are a challenge.
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