Thursday, December 8, 2011

BOOST RENEWABLES - give us feed-in tariffs

There are a lot of interesting laws being considered to boost investment and viability of renewable energy sources. Net metering is just one, then there are feed-in tariffs and virtual net metering also called remote net metering or aggregate net metering.

In situations where multiple investors ( a group of neighbors ?) want to share the output of a renewable energy source, and perhaps these investors are remotely located from the source, virtual net metering will allow the renewable energy produced and metered at the source to be credited to any other investor meters out there on the grid.

Feed-in tariffs insure that renewable energy sources receive the same or higher price for their energy as fossil fueled (and subsidized) sources. Seems only fair, but currently in NY, the utilities are allowed to pay less for clean renewable energy, or only what is called the 'avoided cost', somewhere around 4 cents / KWhr  while charging a retail of 10 to 16 cents / KWhr.  A feed-in tariff would set ( and stabilize) the price somewhere in between so that investors can be certain of their return on investment and not have to gamble that the price of renewable energy is set by those that have a vested interest in burning fossil fuels.

These laws are slowly being passed piecemeal state by state. Eventually I look forward to progressive national legislation on this front. There is still lots of resistance from vested interests, but they are slowly figuring out that this kind of legislation does not hurt too many and helps boost renewable energy generation and national energy independence.


Rob said...

What if renewables got the same subsidies as fossil fuels ?

Check this link for the answer.

Paul Nash said...

Hi Rob,

Great blog, and good info on the underappreciated pump as turbine.

I helped build a stand alone 5kW hydro system (pelton) that used a 3ph motor as a generator - very clever.

I am interested in your thoughts about doing small grid connected systems (10-50kW) with an induction generator.
What addtional equipment is needed to mee t all the utility interconnection requirements (over/under voltage, anti-islanding etc?)

It appears that you should be able to just hook up the induction motor+pump and go, but I am sure there is more to it than that..

Rob said...

Power companies require that you disconnect from the grid whenever grid power is lost or goes out of spec.
The Beckwith M-3410 Intertie/Generator Protection Relay will perform this function.
This is basically a computer in a box that monitors voltage, frequency & currents and opens or closes contacts when anything goes outside of programmable limits. The M-3410 can also display all this, KWhrs generated, and more information on a connected computer.