Acronyms galore!

Well the good news at CleanTechies is that we are starting to roll forward with some ideas – incorporating a discussion board for job seekers and integrating a more complete job board. If you are a developer and want to give us a hand… write to Hilary(at) She’d be psyched to hear from you!

For you career changers that are still wrapping your mind around new terms – Renewable Portfolio Standards commonly referred to as RPSs , are central to stimulating renewable energy production in many US states by mandating that utilities incorporate a certain amount of renewable power in their power mix. Ideally they can actually source this power from their own power plants, but sometimes they have to buy this power from other independent power producers, IPPs (also referred to as non-utility generators). To make matters more complicated for you, in some states producers can actually uncouple the environmental attributes and incentives associated with the energy produced and sell those Renewable Energy Certificates (or simply RECs ) to a utility while selling the energy produced to a consumer. To give you some perspective on how that impacts a utilities thinking you can look at how power purchase agreements (PPAs) are put together in a previous post .

Here is a recent article that deals with RPSs to see how they are used in context – PG&E to Add 100MW of Solar Thermal-Biofuel Hybrid Power

So… how about Feed in Tariffs (FiTs )? What are they? Well they are another system used to stimulate renewable energy projects – except here, IPPs are guaranteed a certain rate for the power that they produced (sometimes a premium is given that is tethered to the going market rate (e.g. market rate plus 8 cents) and sometimes it is a mandated number for a certain number of years. The idea behind doing this is that the smart finance guys can build an accurate financial model incorporating the costs of developing and running the projects and accurately demonstrate that the project will be profitable given the certainty of payment at a certain rate. Germany and Spain are the most often cited examples of Feed in Tariffs in action – the guaranteed cash flows of an FiT scheme has stimulated the growth of the renewables industry in these two countries tremendously.

To give some perspective – here is FiT legislation in action: Revision of German FiT

Still curious? Good! If you want some more discussions on the positives and negatives of each system I’d encourage you to poke around the internet – here is a start on the Union of Concerned Scientists website on the subject of Clean Energy Policies.

Keep grappling to learn about these different policies and understand what motivates project developers to move forward with projects in some countries but not in others… get involved with your politicians and let them know that you vote and that you want them to provide legislation that stimulates efficiency and renewable energy project development! Speaking of politicians… do you know what Obama and McCain have in store for us if they are elected? In Energy Policy, McCain, Obama differ on Role of Government .

Ciao for now,

-Ian Thomson


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