Climate Now – a multimedia resource that explains the science and economics of climate change to people, released its latest episode part of its Climate Now podcast series. The episode titled “Two views on the future of US electricity grid” presents an expert-led audio discussion on Distributed Energy Resources vs Utility-Scale Energy Generation or which approach the US should emphasize on for accelerating renewable energy in the medium term. You can listen to the episode on Spotify here and on Apple Podcast.
The Climate Now podcast features regular deep-dive discussions on climate topics released every other week on Tuesday and a weekly news show every Monday where the hosts cover the biggest climate energy stories of the past week.
The debate released on Sept 26th talks about important points on the pros and cons of both pathways – accelerating utility-scale renewable energy and distributed energy resources. Utility-scale is of paramount importance due to its direct impact on the future of our energy infrastructure and the ability of the US energy sector to reach net zero emissions.
Utility-scale projects offer the advantage of existing infrastructure and economies of scale, potentially making them more cost-effective for large-scale renewable energy deployment. However, distributed energy resources, such as rooftop solar and microgrids, bring resilience, rapid deployment, and consumer-level benefits, contributing to energy democratization.
The deployment of both is needed and should go in parallel for a net zero energy future. However, there might be the possibility that just one of those approaches can bring clean reliable energy faster to consumers and be more economical both in the short and long run.
The guests invited to discuss the topic are:
- Paul Denholm, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), arguing in favor of utility-scale renewables. He is a member of the Transmission Group in the Grid Planning and Analysis Center, and a senior research fellow – the highest technical position at NREL. He and his colleagues research into how clean energy can be introduced into the existing grid infrastructure. He argues that investing in renewable power at utility scale is the fastest and most effective way to achieve a green energy mix.
- Bill Nussey, author of the book Freeing Energy, arguing in favor of distributed energy resources. He is a tech entrepreneur, a partner at the venture firms Engage and Tech Square Ventures, and a former CEO of iXL and Silverpop. He is making the case that distributed energy generation can transform the power industry in the same way that cloud computing transformed tech. He is also looking into the topic from the investor’s point of view.
Questions that are covered in the podcast include:
- What will get the US to a 100% renewable energy system faster: utilities or distributed energy generation and storage?
- How do we overcome the challenges facing the deployment of renewable energy projects today?
- What are the technical and economic reasons as to why the renewable energy transition is taking so long?
The episode brings an informative discussion and ultimately a critical topic into the focus of the green energy transition both for the short and long term.