Published on August 23rd, 2011 | by John Farrell8
Why We Should Democratize the Electricity System (Part 1)
The Potential for Distributed Generation
Most U.S. states have enormous potential for renewable electricity production that could be developed in a distributed, democratic fashion. In our 2009 report, Energy Self-Reliant States, we provided maps of the renewable energy potential by state based on current electricity demand. The following map illustrates the potential state self-sufficiency from rooftop solar PV alone.
Almost every state could get 20 percent or more of its electricity from rooftop solar. This does not include the electricity generated from ground-mounted arrays. Sufficient sunshine falls on every state to meet all its electricity needs from the sun provided that enough energy storage was also available. The following map shows the portion of a state’s land area that would be required to meet all its electricity needs with solar power. California’s 0.32% is equivalent to about half of Orange County; New York’s 0.66% is equivalent to less than half of Long Island. While a fully renewable, distributed grid would benefit from greater diversity than just solar power, the map provides a picture of the potential to power every state’s grid with local, distributed electricity.
State land area required to maximize solar PV:
The exponential growth rate of distributed generation like solar PV suggests that even if distributed generation makes up a small portion of generation now, its growth profile suggests that within the planning horizons of many utilities, it will comprise a significant and possibly majority portion of generation.
Germany, for example, deployed over 10,000 MW of solar PV projects in the past two years, over 80 percent on rooftops. Distributed generation is poised for massive growth in the United States.
To read more about democratizing the electricity system, click through:
- Part 2 (The Economics of Distributed Generation)
- Part 3 (The Political and Technical Advantages of Distributed Generation)
- Part 4 (Regulatory Roadblocks to Democratizing the Electricity System)
- Part 5 (Overcoming the Roadblocks to Democratizing the Electricity System)
- Download the full report.