|Box 6.2: A Vision for Photovoltaic Electricity|
In the Spring of 1997 the President announced a Million Roofs Initiative to accelerate the commercialization of photovoltaic (PV) technologies. The goal is to install some 3.0 gigawatts of PV systems on rooftops of 1 million buildings in 325 cities by 2010. The Federal government will provide funds directly to communities and builders to organize programs to promote the use of PV systems. Various incentive schemes will be used. One will be "net metering," which involves running an electricity meter backwards when rooftop PV systems are exporting electricity to the grid, giving consumers credit for exported electricity at the utility''s electricity selling price.
|Box 6.3: A Vision for Energy and Urban Infrastructure: The National Advanced Drilling and Excavation Technology (NADET) Program|
The National Advanced Drilling and Excavation Technologies (NADET) program promotes and facilitates collaborative crosscutting R&D on advanced rock penetration and removal methods to lower costs substantially and reduce the environmental impacts associated with underground engineering operations. Current expenditures are enormous-drilling operations worldwide are roughly $200 million per day; in North America they are $100 million per day; for mining and earth excavation operations worldwide they are in the hundreds of billions of dollars per year. Thus, the potential for cost savings by providing enabling new technologies is substantial and could have an enormous impact for both developed and developing countries. For example, if drilling costs could be reduced by 50 percent in general, lower-grade fossil and geothermal resources would become commercially competitive.
|Box 6.4: Wires-Society''s Lifeline|
The U.S. population is literally wired together. These connections also serve parts of Canada and Mexico and are being extended both within countries and across borders. High-voltage transmission lines efficiently move power from remote, large power stations to urban areas where the voltage is stepped down to customer levels, 110 to 220 volts in homes and higher for commercial and industrial customers. The wires network permits efficient environmentally responsive use of a large versatile mix of generating plants scattered across the country. Economic, and more recently environmental, dispatch permits lowest electricity costs consistent with available plant and fuel mix at the world''s highest reliability.
|Box 6.5: Alternative Ways To Use 5 ExaJoules of Biomass per Year-A Thought Experiment|
Consider alternative scenarios for using 5 ExaJoules of biomass per year (4.7 quads per year, equivalent to 5 percent of U.S. energy in 1995) to make ethanol from the carbohydrate fraction of the biomass as a gasoline substitute and electricity from the lignin as a substitute for coal electricity, in the context of an energy system having the same CO2 emissions and using as much coal and oil for power plants and cars and light trucks (i.e., light-duty vehicles-LDVs) as the United States in 1995. This much biomass could be available at attractive costs by 2015; somewhat more than half would come from agricultural residues and the rest from energy crops grown on 7.3 million hectares (18 million acres). With this modest level of land required for energy crops (equivalent to half the area authorized for the CRP in any year) competition with food production is likely to be very modest.
...under “Sustained Growth”... [u]se of fossil fuels increases steadily over the next 30 years,
fueling the economic development of a majority of the world population. By 2020-2030, they
reach their maximum potential and no longer contribute to growth, being limited by the rate of
production and commercialization of resources economically competitive with renewable
energies. At that time a number of developing countries...increasingly turn their attention
towards renewable energy sources...In this scenario, the rate of market penetration for identified
renewable technologies – wind, biomass, photovoltaics – is similar to that of coal or oil and gas
in the past."
Shell International Petroleum Company 2
Renewable energy technologies (RETs) have made remarkable progress over the past two decades.
Prices for energy from RETs such as wind turbines and photovoltaics (PVs) have come down by as much
as 10 times.3 Prospects for bringing RETs to broad market competitiveness are good. With continuing
R&D coupled to carefully targeted demonstration and commercialization, RETs are now poised to become
major contributors to U.S. and global energy needs over the next several decades. The Shell International
Petroleum Company, for example, projects that by 2025 renewable energy sources could contribute to
global energy one-half to two-thirds as much as fossil fuels do at present, with new renewable sources
(excluding hydropower and traditional biomass) accounting for one-third to one-half of total renewables.4
Likewise the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in its 1995 assessment of energy supply
options for mitigating climate change, estimated that renewables could contribute by 2025 about two-fifths
as much energy as fossil fuels do at present.5
1 More detailed references for Chapter 6 are provided in Appendix F.
2 Shell (1995).
3 For example, the price of wind-generated electricity has dropped from as much as $0.80/kWh in the early 1980s to the range
of $0.04/kWh to $0.05/kWh today, depending on the financing terms. The cost of PV modules has dropped from about $50,000
per kW of capacity in the mid-1970s to around $4000/kW today. See OTA (1995).
4 Kassler (1994), Shell (1995).
5 IPCC (1996).