Clean Power Interview With NREL Director Dan Arvizu On Distributed Energy / Distributed Solar (Benefits & Obstacles)

Published on January 30th, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan


Interview With NREL Director Dan Arvizu On Distributed Energy / Distributed Solar (Benefits & Obstacles)

January 30th, 2013 by  

I was very luck to have to chance to talk with NREL Director Dan Arvizu for about an hour at the recent International Renewable Energy Conference (part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week). Furthermore, I got most of what we discussed on video. Below is one of the videos from our conversations (all of which I’ll be posting here on CleanTechnica). This first one concerns the very interesting and important topic of distributed power generation, especially distributed solar. I’ve got more commentary and extra info following the video.

Incidentally, right at the end of my first conversation with Dan (which I was recording), my battery died. So, I lost the whole video. We agreed to meet up later to record it again if I could make it back before he left, but I was a bit late in returning and thought, very sadly, that I had missed the opportunity. So I started drafting a post on what he had said. After a couple moments, he showed up and we recorded the video above, but I think the notes from the original talk are still worth sharing, so I’m including them below.

Dan had a great keynote address at the beginning of the day in which he discussed much of the stuff we write about every day here on CleanTechnica. In the coming weeks, I’m going to pull out some of the key points and graphics, including some I don’t think I had seen before. At one point in his presentation, he was especially enthusiastic when discussing the potential for and value of distributed power (most notably, that would include distributed, rooftop solar PV).

One point he emphasized very strongly in a follow-up interview with me about this topic was that our current, baseload-based electricity system is extremely inefficient. It’s only about 44% efficient — astoundingly low. (In the second interview, above, he clarified what that meant: that our power generating assets are only used about 44% of the time.) If businesses in other sectors had such efficiency, they’d be out of business, Dan commented. We need to improve that, and there’s great potential for doing so by using a distributed generation system, and by having systems that are much more responsive and much more able to match supply with demand. (Of course, solar is a great option, because solar power generation often matches peak electricity demand.)

The challenge is that the whole sector has been based on this baseload power framework for decades, and it’s a huge challenge to make large change in such systems. The changes and the push for change have to come from many levels — from the regulatory institutions, utility company business models, and from the general populous. We have to create this transformation through efforts, education, and policies on many levels. In the first discussion about this topic, Dan emphasized the importance of creating citizen demand — a citizen movement — to create change in how our energy system is set up. Of course, CleanTechnica is quite engaged in doing this, as is the organization of one of our writers (John Farrell) — the Institue for Local Self-Reliance.

What can you do? Help spread the word by sharing posts like this one and by starting or getting involved in local renewable energy advocacy groups!

For more content from CleanTechnica’s trip to Abu Dhabi, check out our archive pages for Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, the World Future Energy Summit, and/or the International Renewable Energy Conference.

Full Disclosure: my trip to Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week was funded by Masdar. That said, I was completely free to cover what I wanted throughout the week, and at no point did I feel under pressure to cover any specific events or Masdar in any particular way. 
Get CleanTechnica’s 1st (completely free) electric car report → “Electric Cars: What Early Adopters & First Followers Want.”
Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.


Tags: , , , ,

About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) one letter at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor. Otherwise, he's probably enthusiastically fulfilling his duties as the director/editor of EV Obsession, Gas2, Solar Love, Planetsave, or Bikocity; or as president of Important Media. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, energy storage, and wind energy expert. If you would like him to speak at a related conference or event, connect with him via social media:, .

Back to Top ↑
  • Advertisements

  • Top Posts & Pages

  • Cool Cleantech Events

    Low Voltage Electrification Event, April 25-27. Detroit, Michigan (US)
    Delve deep into the benefits and challenges associated with EV power supply.

    Offshore Wind Market Development USA, May 11-12, Boston, Massachusetts (US)
    Network and establish your business in one of North America’s largest energy industries.

    Energy Storage USA, June 15-16, San Diego, California (US)
    Only event in the United States focused exclusively on the commercialization of storage.

    More details are on: Cleantech Events.

  • Advertisement

  • CleanTechnica Electric Car Report

    Electric Cars Early Adopters First Followers
  • Tesla Model 3 Review by EVANNEX

    Tesla Model 3 Review from EVANNEX
  • Tesla Model 3 Exclusive Video

    Tesla Model 3 Video
  • Tesla Model 3 Exclusive Pictures

    Tesla Model 3 Video
  • Tesla Model X Review #1 (Video)

    Tesla Model X Review from new owners Zach Shahan
  • Tesla Model X Review #2 (Pictures)

    Tesla Model X Review from Kyle Field
  • Tesla Model S Long-Term Review

    Tesla Model S Long Term Review from Kyle Field
  • Nissan LEAF Long-Term Review

    Nissan LEAF Long Term Review from Cynthia Shahan
  • Interview with Michael Liebreich

    Interview with Michael Liebreich
  • Interview with Akon (Teslas & Solar)

    Interview with Akon Tesla Model S Tesla Model X Solar Power Africa
  • Interview with Dr Nawal Al-Hosany

    Interview with Dr Nawal Al-Hosany
  • Interview with Gro Brundtland

    Gro Brundtland
  • Interview with President of Iceland

    President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson
  • Interview with Nick Sampson

    Faraday Future VP Nick Sampson
  • Interview with Dipal Barua

    Dipal Barua 1st ZFEP WInner
  • Interview with Jonathon Porritt

    Jonathon Porritt
  • Interview with Clint Wilder

    Interview with Clint Wilder
  • Interviews with Solar Impulse Pilots

    Bertrand Piccard Andre Borschberg
  • Check out more CleanTechnica Videos.

  • Join The Solar Revolution!

    Edison-solar-energy solar-energy-spill-nice-day
  • Cost of Solar Panels

  • Search the IM Network