John Farrell

John Farrell is the author of Energy Self-Reliant States and a senior researcher at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, where he focuses on renewable energy policy.

Solar Power

Solar PV makes most sense at modest size

Benefits of smaller-scale solar operations far outweigh any potential savings from building bigger.

Gas is greener? Smearing renewables over land use exposes ignorance of fossil fuel lovers

Oregon’s solar highway. Photo: Oregon Department of TransportationA recent column in the New York Times suggested that land use is the greatest environmental problem facing new renewable energy.  While getting the facts terribly wrong, it opens a door to talk about the advantages of distributed generation rather than large, central-station power generation.  A prime example is a unique proposal by Republic Solar Highways to put solar PV on highway right-of-way in California. Robert Bryce’s column (the Gas is Greener) suggests that wind and solar have a large land footprint compared to gas and nuclear power, and therefore the latter are …

Wind Power

Solving wind power's variability with more wind power

Any single wind turbine's output varies as winds go from gusty to calm. But we can outsmart nature by adding more wind sites.

Solar Power

Utilities cash in when you go solar

Net metering offers a lot to utilities and very little to ratepayers and solar array owners.

Solar Power

Concentrated solar power plants are all wet

Concentrating solar has promised big additions to renewable energy production with the additional benefit of energy storage -- but there's a catch.

Local clean energy a high priority for Canadian provinces

Ontario’s “buy local” energy policy has the promise of 43,000 local jobs from 5,000 MW of new renewable energy.   Now Nova Scotia is showing a strong interest in boosting the economic returns of its clean energy program. The maritime province is completing rulemaking for a provincial goal of 40% renewable power by 2020 that includes a 100 megawatt (MW) set-aside for community-owned distributed generation projects. The policy promises to increase the economic activity from its renewable energy goal by $50 to $240 million. Under the Community Feed-in Tariff (ComFIT), the community-owned projects will receive 20-year contracts for power at …

Local ownership means local love for wind power

This post originally appeared on Energy Self-Reliant States, a resource of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s New Rules Project. A new article in the journal Energy Policy supports the notion that local ownership is key to overcoming local resistance to renewable energy.  The article summarizes a survey conducted of two towns in Germany, both with local wind projects, but only one that was locally owned.  The results are summarized in this chart: Guess which town has the locally owned project?  If you guessed Zschadraß, you win.  With local ownership of the wind project, 45% of residents had a positive view toward …

Cooperative South Dakota wind farm nets 600 local owners

This post originally appeared on Energy Self-Reliant States, a resource of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s New Rules Project. With the right renewable energy policy, hundreds of individuals can have a stake in a renewable energy future.  That’s what happened with a cooperatively-owned wind project in South Dakota, where 7 turbines from a larger wind project are shared by over 600 local investors. The largest barrier to community ownership of renewable energy has been the use of tax credits as the primary federal incentive for renewable energy.  Tax credit incentives stymie cities, counties, and cooperatives from constructing and owning their own …

Renewable Energy

How to power homes with 100% clean and increasingly local power

Marin Clean Energy in California leads the way in clean, local energy with its community choice aggregation model.

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