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Solar and Wind - Background:

Help us get the message to state and national elected officials by writing letters, making phone calls, and communicating the ideas to friends, relatives, and co-workers. The U.S. is fortunate in that it is endowed with massive solar (Southwest) and wind (Midwest) resources. ASAP’s research indicates that the lowest cost source – of base load electricity (24/7) is Midwest wind; of peak load electricity (7am-10pm) is Southwest solar; and of hydrogen produced by electrolysis of water is either Southwest solar or Midwest wind.

To many it is surprising that the lowest cost source of unsubsidized solar and wind electricity for electricity consumers in the Eastern U.S. is from solar plants in the Southwest and wind plants in the Midwest. This is true because the cost of solar and wind electricity is determined by the amount of average daily sunlight, as well as the cost of solar and wind installations. The Southwest U.S. has the greatest quantity of average daily sunlight and the lowest cost land for thousands of square miles of solar installations. Therefore, solar electricity produced in the Southwest is the lowest cost solar electricity for consumers in the Eastern U.S. even with the cost of long-distance transmission. The same holds for wind electricity produced in the Midwest states. Offshore wind is too expensive because of the high installation and maintenance costs.

The key is to change our perspective from a local electricity production system to a national system with the production of Southwest solar and Midwest wind electricity that is then distributed to local markets nationwide. In this way, the entire nation can enjoy the lowest cost supply of solar and wind electricity.

ASAP Publications:

Zweibel, Ken, James E. Mason, and Vasilis Fthenakis.  2008.      Scientific American 298(1):64-73.

Zweibel, Ken, James Mason, and Vasilis Fthenakis.  2008.      EnergyBiz Magazine, March/April 2008 Edition.

Fthenakis, Vasilis, James Mason, and Ken Zweibel.  2009.      Energy Policy 37(2):387-399.


Mason, James, Vasilis Fthenakis, Ken Zweibel, Tom Hansen, Thomas Nikolakakis.  2008.      Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications 16(8):649-668.

Mason, James E. and Cristina L. Archer.  2011.      Manuscript published by the journal Renewable & Sustainable Energy Reviews, Feb 2012.


Conference Presentations:

Mason, James E.  2009.      Presentation at the ISA Expo 2009, 6 October 2009, Houston, TX.

Mason, James E.  2009.      Presentation at the ASES Forum on Solar and the Grid, 13 May 2009, Buffalo, NY.

Zweibel, Ken.  2008.      Presentation at the American Solar Energy Society conference, 8 March 2008.

Mason, James, G. William Bailey, and Cristina Archer.  2010.      Paper presented at the 2nd CAES Conference and Workshop sponsored by New York State Energy Research and Development Agency (NYSERDA) and organized by the Center for Life Cycle Analysis, Columbia University Columbia University, New York, New York, 20-21 October 2010.


Other Research:

Mason, J.E. and K. Zweibel.  2008.      Centralized production of hydrogen using a coupled water electrolyzer-solar photovoltaic system. In Solar Hydrogen Generation: Toward a Renewable Energy Future, eds. Rajeshwar K, McConnell R, and Licht S. New York: Kluwer Academic.

Mason, J.E. and Zweibel K.  2007.      International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, 32(2007):2743-2763

Mason, J. E., V. M. Fthenakis, T. Hansen, and H. C. Kim.  2006.      Energy payback and life-cycle CO2 emissions of the BOS in an optimized 3.5-MW PV installation. Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications 14(2):179-190.


Research Projects:

New York State Electric & Gas - Advanced Compressed Air Energy Storage Project


Position Papers:

International Energy Agency (IEA), 6/12/2102 report overview on CNN


Additional Information: