Alt Car Expo: feed-in tariffs vs. renewable portfolio standard

Angelina Galiteva, listed in the Alt Car Expo program as an "energy expert," gave a talk titled "Strategies for the Successful Integration of Renewable Energy Sources into the Power Grid" last Saturday in Santa Monica. She said there are two main ways that governments fund renewable energy sources: either using RPS or Feed-in tariffs, and the fighters for each side are waging an epic struggle for their method to come out on top. The basic difference between the two is that feed in tariffs specify a guaranteed price for renewable energy and are usually long-term, fixed rates that are not pegged to the retail price of energy. This system is quite popular in many European countries, although a few are "RPS holdouts".

RPS stands for Renewable Portfolio Standard and uses a target or quota for renewable that is legislated and determined by policy regulations. In many cases, RPS is based on a system of tradeable renewable credits and bidding processes for companies, with the value of the credits determined by a wide range of factors. Galiteva said that companies are less likely to invest in alternative energy technologies under the RPS system because it is impossible to know what the price for that energy will be in 20 years. The United States uses RPS (here is a list of state-by-state RPS activity).

Galiteva noted that RPS proponents say the RPS follows a predictable market, which means that the market will decide winners. Nonetheless, Galiteva strongly favors feed-in tariffs, and said she hopes the RPS model is in trouble. There are high failure rates for companies in the RPS scheme, she said, as the system favors large oligarchies, not small start-ups.

Galiteva works with the World Council on Renewable Energy, where she is WCRE Coordinator for Renewable Energy City Initiatives, Executive Director for Strategic Planning. WCRE is a group whose goal is to get all (yes, 100 percent) of our energy from renewable sources. Not a small feat, that, but Galiteva called it "Mission Possible." WCRE works with governments for new legislative frameworks, and has created the first international renewable energy agency. Two renewable energy source, solar and wind power, will never go up in price, because wind and sunlight will never cost more than they do today, now will they?

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