View Full Forums : Micropower -- The future (hopefully)

02-11-2009, 12:50 PM
Very interesting...
Big thermal plants’ disappointing cost, efficiency, risk, and reliability were leading their orders to collapse even before restructuring began to create new market entrants, unbundled prices, and increased opportunities for competition at all scales. By now, the world is shifting decisively to “micropower” — The Economist’s term for cogeneration (making electricity and useful heat together in factories or buildings) plus renewables (except big hydroelectric dams).

The U.S. lags with only about 6 percent micropower: its special rules favor incumbents and gigantism. Yet micropower provides from one-sixth to more than half of all electricity in a dozen other industrial countries. Micropower in 2006 (the last full data available) delivered a sixth of the world’s total electricity (more than nuclear power) and a third of the world’s new electricity. Micropower plus “negawatts” — electricity saved by more efficient or timely use — now provide upwards of half the world’s new electrical services. The supposedly indispensable central thermal plants provide only the minority, because they cost too much and bear too much financial risk to win much private investment, whereas distributed renewables got $91 billion of new private capital in 2007 alone. Collapsed capital markets now make giant projects even more unfinanceable, favoring lower-financial-risk granular projects even more.

02-11-2009, 04:13 PM
Solar panels are a dubious investment in San Francisco, but I'd gladly put a wind turbine on my roof. If only they didn't cost as much as a new car and sound like a 747 taking off.

02-11-2009, 05:34 PM
Or perhaps a wind turbine to power a neighborhood. Stick a cell antennae in the top and you get two jobs done with one thingie.