A major advantage for renewable energy is its flexibility. It can be utility scale or power a single home. It can be a big distant power producer or very local.
Mega wind and solar farms capture most interest, but distributed renewable energy systems are today a big business amounting to about 20,000 megawatts of global installations per year, booming in the USA and around the world. And distributed renewable energy's growth has just begun.
Pike Research projects that annual new distributed renewable generation will triple by 2017, when it reaches more than 63,500 megawatts, and an incredible 232,000 megawatts of new distributed renewable generation will be installed around the world from 2012 to 2017. http://www.pikeresearch.com/newsroom/annual-renewable-distributed-energy-generation-installations-will-nearly-triple-by-2017.
A analyst for Pike states: "In a growing number of cases around the world, renewable distributed generation technologies are more cost-effective than centralized installations that require transmission." That is fundamentally why the shale gas revolution will not kill renewables and why both gas and renewables will grow rapidly over the next 20 years.
Pike concludes that solar will account for 210,000 megawatts of the 232,000 megawatts that will be installed. Solar modules cost $4 per watt in 2006 and now cost $1 per watt, according to Pike Research.
Good times ahead for distributed renewable energy and natural gas.