Professor Felix Mormann Compares the Renewable Energy Experience of Three Locations


CORAL GABLES, Fla. (December 1, 2015) – Germany gets little more than half as much sunshine as California and Texas, yet German solar installations generate electricity at a cost that is comparable to that of Texas and only slightly higher than California. Contrary to widespread concern, an increase in the share of intermittent solar and wind power need not jeopardize the stability of the electric grid. Germany’s residential electric rates may be two to three times that of California and Texas, but this price differential is only partly due to Germany’s subsidies for renewables – and the average German household’s electricity bill is, in fact, lower than in Texas and only slightly higher than in California.  
These and other findings of a new study co-authored by Felix Mormann, University of Miami School of Law Professor and faculty fellow at Stanford University’s Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance, challenges the conventional wisdom regarding the large-scale deployment of solar, wind, and other low-carbon renewables.
“A Tale of Three Markets: Comparing the Solar and Wind Deployment Experiences of California, Texas, and Germany” released last week is slated for print publication in the Stanford Environmental Law Journal. The report is co-authored by a team of three energy experts at the Steyer-Taylor Center.                                                                    
“As policymakers from around the world gather for the climate negotiations in Paris, our report draws on the experiences of three distinct ‘countries’ and leaders in renewable energy deployment to shed important light on some of the most prominent and controversial themes in the global renewables debate,” said Professor Mormann.
“Germany, California, and Texas are all economic powerhouses ranking 4th, 8th, and 12th, respectively, among the world’s economies,” said Dan Reicher, executive director of Stanford’s Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance and interim President and CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy.  “All three have made great progress in the transition toward a more renewables-based, low-carbon energy economy. But each has done so following its own policy approach and operating in very different political and regulatory environments.”
The study leverages this diversity to produce some intriguing comparative insights giving cause for optimism that smart policy solutions can enable a greater share of electricity from solar, wind, and other climate-friendly sources without harm to overall system stability or undue hardship for electricity ratepayers. “Our findings suggest that renewable energy is ready to play its part in mitigating global climate change,” said Victor Hanna, J.D. '14, a former student of Mormann's and an associate in the energy practice group of Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati and former research associate at the Steyer-Taylor Center.