Alternative Energy Facts
Solar Power – Solar Power has been given a new lease on life, as Elon Musk, and Telsa have rolled out their new Power Packs. Both Solar and Wind Power have long been subject to the argument that we can’t store the energy which they create in a meaningful way, and as such, they were unable to provide the reliability that most of us want in our power supply. With the introduction of a reasonably priced whole-house battery, solar could have a whole new lease on life. As states move to allow on-bill financing of renewables, we expect to see solar become an area of significant growth. Click here to view some solar energy facts and figures.
Net Metering – The definition of net metering can change from state to state, but the overall concept could be compared to spinning your electric meter backwards when you are producing your own power. This is most commonly associated with individuals or businesses who employ solar panels to generate power. Net metering is currently in place in 44 states, however the rules and laws governing net metering vary from state to state. Below are a few reasons to support strong net metering policies.
Choice: Net metering provides individuals, businesses, schools, and churches with options. We are no longer bound by monopolistic utilities. We can now choose to generate our own power. We can choose to use all the power we generate, or sell some back to the grid. We can choose to take ownership of our power supply, or to rely on others.
Control: Net metering also means local control. Having control over our own power generation means that we are less susceptible to the inherent risks associated with the grid. It also means that as the micro grid technology improves, we may have the choice to remain online, even when the utilities go down.
Jobs: A good net metering policy drives investment in solar, and as such creates local jobs. There are the jobs created manufacturing the solar panels, and the ancillary parts. There are also jobs created installing the solar panels. This industry creates more jobs per megawatt than any other source of power.
Security: As lone wolf terrorism continues to rise, there is increasing concern about the security of our power grid. A recent study showed that our entire system could be taken offline with as few as 7 local attacks. Encouraging more self-generation, particularly by essential service providers like hospitals, police, fire, and military will help to enhance our energy security. By decreasing our dependence on resources from the Middle East, we also limit the amount of money that we are sending to countries who sometimes wish to do us harm.
It is our belief that God has provided us with all the energy resources that we will ever need, but it is up to us to effectively harvest that energy in a manner that is both cost effective, and mindful of our responsibility to be good stewards of the earth which God has entrusted to us.
Wind Power – As one of the most promising sources of peak power, Wind Power has enjoyed lowering costs, as economies of scale come into play. As Renewable Energy Standards and Production Tax Credits have encouraged research and development in this area, that R&D has done what it should, which is to bring down prices, and improve the technology. Wind appears to have a lot of room to continue to grow and improve, and now is not the time to back off that R&D, as this too is a product that gives us great energy independence, and is not traded globally. Having a broad base of generation sources will make us more less dependent on countries who hate us, as we strive to use more domestic energy. Ohio enjoys some sizable wind farms, and we could see more, as technology brings the height down, and solves some of the siting issues that sometimes plague wind.
Nuclear Energy – While Nuclear is one of the cleanest forms of energy, it is also one of the most costly to build. The permitting process alone for a Nuclear Power Plant can cost in excess of $100 Million. Unless the cost of electricity rises sharply in the near future, we should not expect to see the utility companies lining up to build new Nuclear Plants. There is also a NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) problem that accompanies Nuclear Power. Many people are fine with Nuclear Power, they don’t want the plant in their neighborhood, just in case it has a meltdown. When you add in the storage issue for spent nuclear rods, this form of generation will likely be an area of slow growth.
Natural Gas – Natural gas is quickly becoming the go-to based load provider of choice.
The reasons for this are many, including, but not limited to:
- Its cleaner emissions
- The copious supplies released by fracking
- Its ability for quick start up and shut down
- The way it can complement renewable generation sources
While we currently have limited ability to export natural gas, as more of or ports are retrofitted to accommodate the export of Liquefied Natural Gas, we should expect exports to increase. That will likely subject Natural Gas to the same price volatility that we see with oil. The prices we currently enjoy are artificially low, and as those prices rise, so will the price of electricity that we are generating from Natural Gas. Natural gas appears poised to play an important role in our portfolio for years to come.
Bio-Mass – Bio-mass is another form of Base-load generation, and enjoys the same cost controls that Hydro does. While it too has its fair share of detractors, there is definitely a place for Biomass in and All of the Above Energy Strategy.
Hydro Power – Hydro power is renewable and clean, and can be used for base load power. There are limited numbers of opportunities to build new hydro plants, and some in the environmental community have concerns about the impact of a plant on the eco-system of lakes, ponds, and rivers. Unlike the other 3 sources listed above, we enjoy greater cost control with Hydro, as the power it produces cannot be traded globally, and as such allows us greater ability to set the price.