Distributed generation of renewable energy is off to a rocky
start, but it's finally making some headway.
By Chris Nelder
Green Chip Review (February 12th, 2010) -
The research side is looking good. The $28 billion request in the
president's FY 2011 budget for the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency
and Renewable Energy includes large increases for programs
including wind, weatherization, smart grid technologies, and solar
- plus $58 million for National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
infrastructure and $50 million to stimulate clean energy
An additional $300 million would support the Advanced Research
Project Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) initiative. Modeled after the
DARPA program that resulted in the Internet, ARPA-E will fund the
fundamental research to incubate the energy grid of the future,
what Ethernet inventor Bob Metcalfe termed the Enernet.
Grid investment is coming along well, with $75 million allocated
to it in the budget request, plus $40 million toward grid storage
solutions. It's a relatively paltry amount, but it should be
bolstered soon by major grid reform legislation making its way
The production side has become a bit of a buyer's market, yet
manufacturers are still building new capacity in anticipation of
the boom ahead. Yes, China is building more capacity in the U.S.
than American companies are, but as I have argued previously,
that's fortunate given the urgency of our situation. Solar PV
supply is high and prices are as low as they've ever been, which is
constructive for new installations.