Chapter 19. Distributed Renewable Energy
Michael B. Gerrard and John Dernbach, eds., Legal Pathways to Deep Decarbonization in the United States, Forthcoming
39 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2017 Last revised: 9 Nov 2018
Date Written: March 8, 2018
The book Legal Pathways to Deep Decarbonization in the United States (Michael B. Gerrard & John Dernback, eds.) (forthcoming from ELI) describes legal impediments to efforts to reduce carbon emissions in the United States and sets forth suggestions for helping reach decarbonization goals.
Chapters 18, 20, 21, and 22 address the conventional utility model where electricity is generated at large centralized plants, transferred through high voltage transmission lines, and then stepped down to a distribution system for delivery to customers. In contrast, this Chapter 19 covers “distributed generation” or “DG,” the generation and use of energy either onsite or within only the lower voltage distribution-level grid infrastructure — including photovoltaic solar, battery storage, and thermal resources such as solar thermal, heat-pumps, and district heating.
Distributed generation (DG) is probably the energy source most impacted by different levels of government and non-governmental actors. This makes DG vulnerable to policy choices, and consequently the recommendations for this chapter are many. However, DG is also most immediate to consumers, especially with new technologies or rate structures that give them feedback about their own individual generation and consumption patterns. This, along with exciting new leaps in DG technologies, suggest there are opportunities for DG to play an increasing role in significantly decarbonizing U.S. energy.
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