MA Electric Capacity from Oil-Fired Power Plants Beats Solar PV by 2.5X! *27 Mar

SBIR Consultant – Market Analysis: There are many issues of importance to be stressed in writing a competitive SBIR proposal. One of these is market analysis: urgent need for your innovation, your competition, showstopper issues, cost, and policy/legal impediments. The blog below is an example of a snapshot market analysis where oil-fired power plants still hold an entrenched position in Massachusetts and will probably not give way any time soon for large-scale solar or wind technologies as replacement power sources. Does your innovation face this type of problem?

Massachusetts lawmakers threaten solar PV. Hanging in the balance are 15,000 solar jobs. 

“An energy battle royal is brewing in Massachusetts as legislators consider rolling back policies that encourage solar owners to sell power from their rooftop photovoltaic systems back to the electricity grid.”

However, there is little, if any, attention focused on the 23 oil-fired electric power plants operating in Massachusetts. Why? Burning oil is environmentally hazardous. Doesn’t that matter? Please see last section below on hazards of burning oil.

Legislation being hashed out in Boston this spring could slash by 75 percent the rate of compensation utilities pay to customers who participate in solar net-metering programs across the commonwealth, from an average of 18 cents per kilowatt-hour to 4.2 cents per kWh.”

If these net metering cuts become a reality, progress achieved in the deployment of Massachusetts solar PV could be decimated, along with 15,100 jobs in the solar industry of this state.”

Apparently, there is no such economic pressure threatening oil-fired electric power plants. Why? Electric utility lobbying has more influence than solar on Beacon Hill?

Solar versus Oil-Fired Power Plants: In Massachusetts there are 23 oil-fired electric power plants with a total capacity of 2580 MWe.

Compare this number with solar PV cumulative capacity of 1,020 MW as of 2015.

  • Electric capacity from oil-fired power plants exceeds solar by 2.5 X!

There is enough solar energy installed in the state to power 163,000 homes. Does that make a difference? In 2014 there were approximately 2,800,000 housing units.

  • The ratio of  homes with solar to total number of MA homes = 0.06

This represents environmental progress? 

Solar PV will not impact the electric utility industry revenue stream any time soon!

 Environmental Hazards of Burning Oil: According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “Burning oil at power plants produces nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, methane, and mercury compounds. The amount of sulfur dioxide and mercury compounds can vary greatly depending on the sulfur and mercury content of the oil that is burned. Further, “Oil-fired power plants use large quantities of water for steam production and cooling. When oil-fired power plants remove water from a lake or river, fish and other aquatic life can be killed, which affects those animals and people who depend on these aquatic resources.”

*Opinions expressed in this post are strictly mine and do not necessarily reflect those of the Town of Reading, MA Climate Advisory Committee where I am a member.

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About Dr. Everson

Prior to forming this SBIR consultant practice, Dr. Jeffrey Everson was director of business development for QinetiQ North America’s Technology Solutions Group (previously Foster-Miller, Inc.).

Dr. Everson has won and been the principal investigator for several SBIR programs, including a Phase I program for NASA, a Phase I project for the U.S. Air Force, and Phase I and II contracts from the U.S. Department of Transportation. For the Phase II program, he received a Tibbetts Award for exemplifying the best in SBIR achievement.

Previously Dr. Everson held senior scientist positions at Battelle Memorial Institute, The Analytic Sciences Corporation (TASC), Honeywell Electro Optics Systems Division, and Itek Optical Systems Division.

He holds a PhD in physics from Boston College and a MS/BS in physics from Northeastern University.


For more information about how JHEverson Consulting can help your company with its SBIR and STTR proposals, please contact Jeff Everson.

JHEverson Consulting is based in the Boston area but consults for clients throughout North America. It also is supported by affiliated consultants.