Monday, February 22, 2010

Distributed Solar Generation

Distributed Generation using Solar--Recurrent Energy
Earlier this month David Roberts at Grist reported that Recurrent Energy would announce a power purchase agreement (PPA) with Southern California Edison for 50MW of solar generation. The interesting part is that the deal involved three separate smaller-scale installations rather than one central array.

On their home page Recurrent says that they develop and operate solar power plants making 2-20MW. And:
Distributed-scale projects enjoy permitting and interconnection advantages that enable us to reach operating status quickly compared to central-scale projects.

We use proven solar technology to meet rising energy demand with a fleet of clean power plants located right where they’re needed most. Recurrent Energy is distributed solar power.

Just so! These are key advantages to distributed generation--getting on-line and making power quickly and saving cost by building appropriate scale close to the need, greatly reducing the many problems with providing transmission bandwidth between the load and distant generation. The company lists many advantages for distributed generation:

  • Distributed power delivers higher value to the grid.
  • Distributed power bypasses time-consuming land use issues.
  • Distributed power plants don’t require new transmission.
  • Distributed projects can be interconnected faster.
  • Distributed-scale projects are quicker to permit and build.
David Roberts, a big fan of distributed energy further notes:
This is not to unduly valorize Recurrent but simply to point out that the benefits it enjoys by focusing on distributed energy are the very benefits society accrues from distributed energy: more flexibility, resilience, and iterative speed. Most importantly, Recurrent is proof of concept that distributed projects can be aggregated into large-scale power purchase agreements. Distributed energy is now a viable market option.
It's great to see this happening. Distributed solar makes a lot of sense.

So does distributed hydropower, for all the same reasons!
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