Government is The Biggest Barrier to Alternative Energy

And by the title of this post, I don't mean because they are not throwing enough money and mandates at it.  Here is what I wrote about the alternative energy mandates in the most recent energy bill:

They want 15% of power generation from renewables by 2020.  I am not
sure if this includes hydro.  If it does, then a bunch of Pacific
Northwest utilities already have this in the bag.  But even if
"renewable" includes hydro, hydro power will do nothing to meet this
goal by 2020.  I am not sure, given environmental concerns, if any
major new hydro project will ever be permitted in the US again, and
certainly not in a 10 year time frame.  In fact, speaking of
permitting, there is absolutely no way utilities could finance, permit,
and construct 15% of the US electricity capacity by 2020 even if they
started today.  No.  Way.   By the way, as a sense of scale, after 35
years of subsidies and mandates, renewables (other than hydro) make up
... about .27% of US generation.

Here is an example of what I mean about the permitting process:  10-years a counting between proposal for a wind farm and having a chance to build it.  And I assure you that there is not way this thing will clear remaining regulatory hurdles to be in place even by 2011.


  1. Nate:

    I think a distributed system could get close with the right incentives. If the government, federal or state or my local utility would lend me the money at a reasonable rate I would throw solar on my roof in a heartbeat. In the SW the numbers make since except for the financing. They have some federal programs that allow you to roll part of the cost into a guaranteed mortgage but you have to refi which is near impossible today. Large business clients usually get discounts on their power, if they flipped that and charged more for higher use they incentivize them to join in. It’s positive ROI for retailers with large roofs to do it now just lower ROI then there investors are looking for. Wal Mart and grocery stores wouldn’t go out of business if they had to go a little green.

  2. XLib:

    The main reason for the long delay in the Cape Wind project was opposition from Ted Kennedy, who did not want any impediments to the view from his mansion or to his drunken sailing. In Texas, wind capacity has quadrupled in 8 years,so there has not been a lot of bureaucratic delay on wind projects in Texas.