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Distributed Generation Makes Big Numbers | john-farrell-ilsr March 2, 2011

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Distributed Generation Makes Big Numbers | john-farrell-ilsr.

Editor’s Note: The graphics are not displaying well for this article. Please go to the original article.

Distributed renewable energy comes in small bites, but it makes mouthfuls — gigawatts — of renewable energy capacity. Americans tend to think big, but it is countries that built small that are hitting big renewable energy targets.

Take Germany. In 2009, it installed 3,000 megawatts (MW) of solar PV, more than three times all the solar PV installed in the U.S., ever. Over 80 percent was installed on rooftops.
Chart.

Distributed wind power scales, as well.

Of Germany’s 27,000 megawatts of wind power projects (third most in the world and most per capita), nearly 90 percent are smaller than 20 megawatts, with most between 1 and 5 megawatts.

Chart.
The small projects are also a significant portion of total capacity, with 20 MW and under wind projects contributing half of total wind power capacity.

Chart.
Germany’s clean energy policy doesn’t just make mountains out of molehill-sized distributed wind and solar projects, it spreads the economic benefits around. Over half of the country’s 43,000 MW of renewable power are owned by individuals or farmers. The chart is from Germany’s Renewable Energy Agency (terms translated by Google):

Chart.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with seeking big numbers for renewable energy, but it’s shortsighted to assume that only big projects add up. And American policy for renewable energy can do more and get more with a focus on distributed energy.

This is part of a series on distributed renewable energy posted to Renewable Energy World. It originally appeared on Energy Self-Reliant States, a resource of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s New Rules Project.  

Contact John Farrell at jfarrell@ilsr.org, find more content at energyselfreliantstates.org or follow @johnffarrell on Twitter

Here are some of the comments posted thus far from the original post in Renewable Energy World.

3 Reader Comments

Comment
1 of 3

February 28, 2011
Americans think BIG IS BOUNTIFUL while developing countries think SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL. Small distributed power will add up quickly rather than waiting for large power production. After all 1+1+1+ …….. leads to infinity.

Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

Comment
2 of 3

March 2, 2011
Distributed projects also reduce the need for new transmission, which may take decades to permit in the US. In a hybrid micro-grid configuration, they can also increase reliability in a way that centralized projects never can. We are starting to focus our future efforts with the HOMER software (www.homerenergy.com) on micro-grids for exactly these reasons.
Peter Lilienthal, Ph.D.
CEO,HOMER Energy

Comment
3 of 3

March 2, 2011
So much roofing surface area, so little time.

Combine energy generation and energy efficiency, combine daylighting and solar thermal and PV and suddenly we’re talking about the real economy.

The big numbers are in low profile buildings, the big boxes. No need to tear up the desert and incur transmission losses.

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