New Developments in Policy Encourage Green Investments
The government most recently have been promoting more efficient use of energy and our limited resources. However, dollar for dollar, it is still much easier to obtain subsidies for nuclear power. Nevertheless, green energy investments are on the rise. In my home state of California, the profitability of green investments such as those in the dry, hot and arid California deserts, have generated large investment and intense focus.
In Mojave, California exists the Ivanpah solar power facility. A 377 megawatt net thermal concentrating solar plant, (CSP), focusing the power of the sun on solar receivers atop power towers. The facility consists of three separate plants and the combined output provides clean electricity to serving more than 140,000 homes in California and will reduce CO2 emissions by more than 400,000 tons per year. The construction of Ivanpah supplied 2,600 jobs and in full operation only needs 65 fulltime and part-time staff.
What we have learned from Ivanpah is that virtually un-farmable, and arguably useless land can be developed by installing CSP power facilities that provide sustainable, profitable and environmentally clean energy. It helps to answer the question of how can this type of land be used most efficiently. Using this land for CSP plants provide far more profit than would be attainable if farming, for example, was used in its place. Furthermore, none of the environmentally hazardous waste associated with running other forms of power, such as nuclear exists.
Ivanpah and plants like it are economically feasible as well. After the cost of construction, support staff is minimal and maintenance costs are a fraction of nuclear power plants because less highly skilled, highly paid technicians are needed. Expensive governmental regulatory safety checks necessary for nuclear are un-necessary. Governmental policies are encouraging this form of investment and have made projects like Ivanpah that much more fundable.
In California we are in the process of designing and adopting greener building codes. These building codes are suggested as incentives. However, they have been becoming mandatory. Greener building is better for the environment and a good sell but it is the adaption and transition to greener mandatory building codes that will bring new interest and therefore retrofits, the adaption in new construction and business opportunities.
As information of the cost savings of installing a 4 to 5 kilowatt roof top or ground mount solar panel array for example becomes available, homeowners, whether involved in new construction or retrofit, will want to participate. This combined with the lower costs of panels will make the decisions to greener technologies even easier. There are large opportunities in consulting in commercial as well as residential. Many large commercial real-estate holders are loading roof tops with solar arrays. Ohlone College at Newark, California has one of the largest roof top solar arrays in Silicon Valley. At 600kW the system covers 38,000 feet of roof space. Examples such as this, lead the way to further investment by commercial real estate owners who have the resources to spend for the long term.
Doris, Elizibeth, Jaquelin Cochran, and Martin Vorum. “Energy Efficiency Policy in the United States: Overview of Trends at Different Levels of Government.” Http://www.nrel.gov/. National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 1 Dec. 2009. Web. 16 Sept. 2014.