Distributed energy generation alternatives

Sources of clean energy may be offshore or onshore, each with advantages and disadvantages.  Offshore development has technical and bureaucratic hurdles that will keep it from being an important source of US power for many years.

Onshore wind generation installations have fewer hurdles and lower cost.  However, large installations in areas of abundant wind resources often require more grid capacity than is available at those locations.   Utilities do not want to pay for transmission lines without a source.  Conversely generating companies do not want to build plants without transmission capacity.

Distributed generation, using low-cost wind turbines may be a way to increase energy production without waiting for development and construction of new transmission capacity.  It can be connected to the existing distribution network to bridge the gap and increase the incentive for eventual private investment in high-power transmission systems.

Distributed wind generation has several other advantages: 

  • It is more constant – Wind may not be blowing at a centralized wind-farm, but it will be blowing over a substantial portion of a distributed network.
  • It is less prone to sabotage, or local environmental phenomenon.
  • Landowners can partner in the power business.

There are several hurdles that must be overcome to make this a reality:

  • May need to modify electrical distribution substations.
  • Need to modify local utility regulations to allow running the meter backwards and provide financial incentives to utilities.
  • Need financial incentives to landowners.  Electrical cooperatives may allow sharing of costs and risk.

More details…



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