Feed-in tariffs, Chu off-message, MPG v. GPM, and the prospects for solar PV
I have about three months worth of unattended tabs open in my browser — over 100, at last count. Ridiculous, I know. I figure now that comments are turned off on our site (it’s weirdly quiet in here!), I’m going to do some speed blogging to get them all cleared away in anticipation of the torrent of news coming down the pike.
• In Florida, an odd-couple pair of legislators — Rep. Keith Fitzgerald (D-Sarasota) and Rep. Paige Kreegel (R-Punta Gorda) — are collaborating on a bill that would push Gainesville’s innovative feed-in tariff program statewide. Fitzgerald wrote the bill; Kreegel is chair of the state’s House Energy & Utilities Policy Committee. They view feed-in tariffs as an economic stimulus and jobs program. Naturally utilities oppose them.
• I know Chu Worship is the order of the day in green circles, but I’m sorry to say that most of what I’ve seen of our new Energy Secretary’s communication with the public has been, IMHO, counterproductive. Like this. Does the Obama administration really want to be encouraging the myth that progress on climate is dependent on scientific and technological breakthroughs? Or this. Does the administration really want to be encouraging the notion that a recession is a bad time to pass a price on carbon?
• What’s the deal with the MPG Illusion? The arguments for shifting to GPM (gallons-per-mile) seem compelling, but this doesn’t seem to have taken off or spread at all.
• Climate change is threatening some of the world’s most valuable archeological sites.
• Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have produced a fascinating report on the installed costs of solar voltaics (PDF). Here are the main conclusions:
• PV costs have declined substantially over time, especially among smaller systems, and primarily as a result of reductions in non-module costs
• This trend, along with the narrowing of cost distributions, suggests that PV deployment policies in the U.S. have achieved some success in fostering competition and spurring efficiencies in the delivery infrastructure
• Lower average costs in Japan and Germany (and among some of the larger PV markets in the US) suggest that deeper near-term installed cost reductions are possible and may accompany deployment scale
• Although costs remained stagnant from 2005-2007, recent developments portend a potentially dramatic shift in the customer-economics of PV over the coming years:
— Anticipated over-supply of PV modules starting in 2009 will put downward pressure on module prices
— Lifting of the cap on the Federal ITC for residential PV, also beginning in 2009, will further reduce net installed costs for residential customers