• NM utility unveils first large-scale solar plant

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    Rows of solar panels at the New Mexico 2 megawatt plant(AP)ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Without a cloud in the sky, New Mexico’s largest electric utility could not have picked a better day to unveil the first of five solar power generating stations it will build this year to meet state renewable energy requirements.

    Officials with Public Service Company of New Mexico and Arizona-based manufacturer First Solar joined city leaders Wednesday to dedicate the 2-megawatt photovoltaic plant.

    The massive collection of solar panels represents the utility’s first venture into large-scale solar development in a state that has been recognized in numerous studies over the years as one of the nation’s best spots for tapping the sun’s energy.

    It has taken years to set the regulatory stage for renewable energy development in New Mexico, but PNM bringing its solar arrays online this year couldn’t come at a better time since pressure from environmentalists to curb emissions is growing and state renewable energy standards will only become more stringent over the next decade.

    “This is a great new fuel source,” PNM president and chief executive Pat Vincent-Collawn said as the sun beat down on the panels behind her. “It’s not continuous, but it really helps us diversify our fuel sources, and as we’ve all seen with everything that’s going on, having diversity is very, very important to us.”

    Nearly two-thirds of the electricity PNM generates for its 500,000 customers comes from coal and natural gas-fired power plants. The utility’s portfolio also includes about 200 megawatts of wind energy, and it owns a stake in the Palo Verde nuclear power plant in Arizona.

    Vincent-Collawn said coal and nuclear-generated power give PNM a critical base load that is available around the clock for customers. She said the utility is working on storage technology it hopes will offset the intermittency of wind and solar.

    PNM’s Albuquerque Solar Energy Center — located just south of the utility’s decades-old natural gas fired Reeves generating station — is the largest collection of photovoltaic solar panels in the metro area.

    Made up of 30,000 panels spread over 20 acres, the array is capable of generating enough electricity to meet the needs of about 630 homes.

    It also marks the second major solar installation to open in New Mexico this week. On Tuesday, a Chevron subsidiary completed a 1-megawatt concentrating photovoltaic plant on a mine tailings site in northern New Mexico.

    In all, PNM plans to add 22 megawatts of solar-generated power to its portfolio by the end of the year. That will be enough to power about 7,000 homes and offset 44 million pounds of the utility’s annual carbon emissions.

    PNM’s $102 million investment in the solar arrays is driven by New Mexico’s requirement that 10 percent of the electricity provided by investor-owned utilities come from renewable resources such as wind and solar. That requirement will increase incrementally to 20 percent by 2020.

    About 30 states already have renewable energy standards, but there are some lawmakers who are pushing for Congress to establish a national standard.

    U.S. Rep. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., who attended Wednesday’s dedication, has been among the supporters of a national standard. He said PNM’s solar arrays mark “a big step forward” in how power is produced, how the electrical grid is managed and how the nation ensures its energy security.

    “Up to now, a lot of customers started this ball rolling by investing in their own systems,” he said.

    Experts agree that one of the factors delaying development of large-scale renewables has been cost.

    The cost of PNM’s solar arrays will be passed on to customers through rates beginning in July 2012 as part of an agreement approved by state regulators. Cost thresholds designed to protect customers are built into the state’s renewable energy requirements. The threshold this year is capped at 2 percent. It will be 2.25 percent next year.

    Vincent-Collawn said PNM was able to save some money by building the Albuquerque array on land already owned by the utility.

    The other four arrays will be built in Los Lunas, Deming, Alamogordo and Las Vegas. Those facilities will be more than twice the size of the one in Albuquerque.

  • Are Solar Power Incentives A Nasty Regressive Tax On The Poor/Misinformed?

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    by Gordon Johnson – Lately, a lot of attention has been given to the solar industry due to the unfortunate set of events which have unfolded in Japan as a result of the earthquake. The prevailing theme among journalists, mis-informed Wall Street analysts’, and investors who have a positively biased view on the solar industry is that due to the problems with the nuclear plants in Japan following the earthquake, this form of renewable power should be abandoned in favor of power sources such as solar. 

    The fundamental problem with this thesis is that it is impossible to replace distributed (i.e., power this is accessible equally at all times of the day) baseload (i.e., energy produced at a constant rate) nuclear power with intermittent (i.e., energy that is only accessible during certain times of the day) peakload (i.e., power sources that provide the most output at select times of the day) solar power. Furthermore, given nuclear power costs roughly $0.015/kWh, while solar power costs closer to $0.25/kWh, if all of the world’s nuclear plants were to be replaced by solar plants, the cost to the rate-payer would go up by nearly 25x (we do not think this would bode well in countries facing high unemployment – U.S., France, Greece, Spain, Italy, Germany, etc.). Stated more simply, if you were to replace the world’s nuclear power with solar power, you would only have power during the day when the sun is shining the brightest (if a rain storm, or large cloud, happened to pass over, you would suddenly not have power – this could be a problem in less sunny regions). In addition, your cost of electricity would rise by roughly 25x. Under this backdrop, it seems many of the arguments suggesting solar energy can replace nuclear are delusional at their core. 

    Now, to the question posed in the heading of this entry: Are solar power incentives a nasty regressive tax on the poor/misinformed? Well, first, it may make sense to know what a regressive tax is. More specifically, in terms of individual income and wealth, a regressive tax imposes a greater burden on the poor than the rich – there is an inverse relationship between the tax rate and the taxpayer’s ability to pay as measured by assets, consumption, or income. Stated differently, a regressive tax tends to reduce the tax burden of people with a higher ability-to-pay (i.e., the rich), as it shifts the burden disproportionately to those with a lower ability-to-pay (i.e., the poor).

    So, how do solar incentives work? Well, there are a number of schemes in which solar power is “incentivized”. However, the most popular form of solar incentive globally is in the form of a feed-in-tariff (FiT). Under a FiT incentive structure, renewable energy generators (homeowners, businesses, pension fund investors, private equity investors, etc.) are paid a premium by the utility buying the solar power generated by their roof-top system, on top of the cost of generating the solar power. As a point of reference, it is important to remember that while natural gas costs roughly $0.035/kWh, and coal costs approximately $0.05/kWh, with nuclear power at $0.015/kWh, solar currently costs about $0.25/kWh. Thus, if you are using solar under a FiT incentive structure, you are being paid by the utility $0.25/kWh for the solar power you are producing, plus an additional “premium” as high as $0.25/kWh, making the total cost to the utility subsidizing this incentive significantly higher than it would have otherwise paid using more traditional forms of electricity.

    Thus, the cost to the utility appears to be significant, right? Well, it’s not that simple. That is, what the utility does when it pays the person who is using the renewable energy under a FiT program is simply redistribute the difference in what it is paying the renewable energy user (i.e., $0.35-$0.55/kWh) and what it pays for more traditional forms of energy (i.e., $0.045/kWh) to all of its ratepayers; in essence, the utility is not paying the exorbitant cost of incentivizing solar, but rather the collective ratepayers in any region which implements solar incentives are. This begs the question… can’t everyone equally share in the benefit of this structure? Well, unfortunately, due to the high cost of solar, the answer to this question is no. What do we mean? Well, when considering at present, the cost for a solar system is approximately $5.50/watt, and the average home installation is 5.5kW, the cost to anyone considering such an installation is $27,500 up front. Furthermore, given a solar system is a 20-year investment (meaning the returns on these systems are calculated over a 20-year period), the first 5-to-10 years of your investment in a home solar roof-top system, you will be cash flow negative. Admittedly, for those ratepayers in a FiT area who have a spare $27,500 to invest, which they don’t need access to in 5-to-10 years, an investment in solar makes a lot of sense (you are paid to use power). However, for the bulk of Americans who do not have a “spare” to $27,500 to invest over a 20-year period, for which they will be cash flow negative for 5-to-10 years, solar is not an option. Despite this, however, because the utility redistributes the cost of solar to all ratepayers, whether you are using solar or not, you are paying if you live in a state that has significant solar incentives (i.e., California, New Jersey, Florida, North Carolina, etc.). As such, despite you not being able to afford putting solar on your roof, you are effectively being forced to subsidize your “rich” neighbor who does have the resources to put solar panels on their roof. Stated differently, a solar incentive is a form of a regressive tax on the “poor”. This begs the question… do many of the “poor” people in the States who have passed solar legislation understand this dynamic? Likely not.

    When you add to this dynamic that fact that the majority of solar modules are produced in China, with U.S. solar module makers First Solar (FSLR) and SunPower (SPWRA) producing the majority of their panels in Malaysia, Germany, and Vietnam, the idea that solar installations in the U.S. create American jobs is another mistruth (this is an understatement). In fact, First Solar’s 290MW Agua Caliente Solar Project, which will receive nearly $1.5 billion in tax-payer funded money from the U.S. government, and is being supplemented, for the most part, by modules produced in Malaysia (thus, effectively, creating jobs in Malaysia using U.S. taxpayer dollars), being constructed in Yuma County, Arizona, will only create 15-to-20 full-time U.S. jobs (a cost to the U.S. taxpayer of nearly $85.7 million per full-time job; this does not appear like a good return on investment for the U.S. taxpayer).

    Another form of incentive, more widely used in the U.S., comes in the form of a loan guarantee, or tax credit. While these differ from FiTs, they are effectively the same thing… money taken from the taxpayer used to subsidize high-cost solar power.

    In short, the way solar incentives work is by taking money from the poor to subsidize the rich homeowners, businesses, and investors who can afford the high upfront costs of installing solar power (a reverse Robin-Hood structure), which is among the most expensive forms of energy available today. While the solar industry has grown considerably, increasing its lobbying power globally, which in-turn has allowed for a massive expansion in marketing (with the key selling point being you must support solar to stop global warming), it remains among the most costly and inefficient forms of electricity available when observing: (1.) cost/kWh compared to other forms of electricity (i.e., wind, hydro, geothermal, nuclear, etc.), and (2.) usage (solar power is only available when the sun is shining, and declines in output with less intense sunrays and cloud coverage).

    While it goes without saying that many of the same people who support solar in the U.S., and other countries, don’t fully understand this dynamic, as they see material spikes in their electricity bills, despite limited job creation associated with the massive solar plants being constructed in their backyards, this could become more of an issue.

  • cheap solar panels

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    Solar panels in HawaiiCheap Solar Panels Home Use
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    Cheap Solar Panels Facts
    Solar panel technology features cheap solar panels the place that the warmth of the sun’s rays is trapped. These kind of panels are produced from silicon that could secure the heat and it will experience selected processes wherever the sun’s heat will be changed right into a useful power as well as electrical energy origin devoid of the unsafe carbon dioxide gas by-products. The process normally will involve photovoltaic technology. Generally, these kinds of cheap solar panels they fit on the beach to be able to accessibility more of the sun’s warm.

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    Solar panel technology are generally popular to cozy waters in your house specifically in areas where you can find chilly climates. By simply purchasing one, you can have warm water every day without having to spend much to the household utility bills and you also might not need to be guilty inside surrounding for the climate change since solar energy sources usually do not produce unsafe gases which could destruction each of our ambiance such as the standard energy source really does.

    In order to pick what type of cheap solar panels to utilize at your home, make sure you execute a thorough evaluation. The particular roof plays an essential position in adding a cheap solar panels. It depends upon the dimensions of your own roof just how much energy you’ll be able to make use of. Needless to say, your wider the roof area, the more cheap solar panels will be set up, greater solar panel technology it is possible to acquire. If the residence has a short space pertaining to installation involving solar power then you definitely might as well pick the pv cells which are highly effective mono-crystalline. They can also be used pertaining to larger areas however they would be best recommended for small installation spaces. Together with your cheap solar panels, be sure to choose the right mount. You should no less than look for your most robust and many long lasting one that will withstand severe conditions plus the severe warm on the sun’s rays.

    Final Thought of Cheap Solar Panels
    Your unlimited power the sun’s rays offers may once and for all be free. It is up to around people make use of that. That can be all of us to generate of which huge determination to be able to indulge in looking after the place we live in in addition to saving money simultaneously. This kind of pv power source provides many perks to us all, so what is using utilizing all of the costly electric power bills when you can finally absolutely have free energy? Cheap solar panels are readily available in the area and online.

  • Why solar power and why go green now?

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    A larger field has been used to harvest the sun instead of hempSolar Power Energy Abundance – Recently the energy turmoil as well as difficulties such as carbon pollutants because well as climatic change have grabbed the statements because well as created awareness of the crucial desire to make changes to the way we live and use – and misuse — our organic resources, particularly the energy usage.

    Power resources such because non-renewable fuels possess usually seemed to be within abundant provide, approximately we have been result in think, and, as a result, the way we’ve utilized these resources has been fairly not therefore serious. They have always been considered in order to be being in infinite provide as well as we have never truly concerned yourself using the effect associated with the ever-increasing reliance within it about the environment.

    The effect has, of course, already been devastating, as evidenced by the results of co2 emissions on the actual earth’s environment as well as also the resulting climatic change. Consequently, attention offers considered what we have in order to do to prevent the actual move forward associated with climatic change as well as also to the actual ownership associated with alternative power sources, with the actual spotlight falling upon solar power particularly.