Energy Company Exec: Big Solar is 'Idiotic'

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NRG's David Crane | Photo: Fortune Live Media/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Follow the energy industry long enough and you learn that certain people in that industry usually have things to say that are both interesting and entertaining. NRG Energy's CEO David Crane is one of those people. At an energy summit this week in New York, Crane lauded distributed solar power, calling the trend toward larger solar installations "idiotic."

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Crane's remarks at Bloomberg New Energy Finance's Future of Energy summit, held April 22-24 in New York, are a little surprising: his firm NRG is an owner of the 370-megawatt Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System being built by BrightSource Energy in the Mojave Desert. But according to Peter Maloney, who reported Crane's remarks this week at Platts, Crane's much more enamored of small-scale solar, both residential and larger distributed installations and smaller utility-scale projects. All told, NRG has about 2,000 megawatts of small-scale solar projects in its development pipeline.

Crane's no stranger to provocative public pronouncements, as we've mentioned here before: he's upfront among energy company executives in forecasting the eventual extinction of investor-owned utilities, and has spoken out in the past about the importance of rooftop solar, long before even some environmental activists were willing to concede that utility-scale solar on public lands might not be the most efficient or effective way of getting off the fossil fuel treadmill.

Crane continued his riff on endangered utilities at the Bloomberg conference, according to Maloney:


Given the threat to the planet's climate from fugitive methane emissions as a result of fracking, which we've reported on here, that notion of ramping up natural gas production to feed hundreds of millions of home fuel cell generators may not be the best idea ever. Still, as the energy industry increasingly falls into disarray in response to a massive societal shift away from fossil fuel energy, it's always interesting to hear from an executive who's looking past the end of the next quarter.

For ongoing environmental coverage in March 2017 and afterward, please visit our show Earth Focus, or browse Redefine for historic material.
KCET's award-winning environment news project Redefine ran from July 2012 through February 2017.

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