Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Sun gets brighter in some states

World over, the growth of solar energy industry has largely been a function of favorable policy environment. Spain added 2.51GW of solar capacity in one year to become the world leader in installed solar capacity. The difference in pace of growth in variuos countries enunciates the effect of the policy environment on the solar industry.

Some US states are moving faster than others in this regard. 
I came across an article on that talks about some recent policy changes in Arizona and California - 

Recently, Arizona state added 4 new bills (quoted from the above link) - 
HB 2335 - providing assistance to home owners through municipal property tax incentives.
HB 2332: Would let schools implement solar and energy efficiency improvements by removing the upfront cost which would be paid back through monthly savings on the school’s utility bills.
HB 2329: Would cap permit fees for solar at US $375.
SB 1403: Designed to give incentives to attract solar manufacturing companies to Arizona.

Following the suit, California is adopting the Feed In Tariff mechanism that has proven largely successful in Spain(44c/kW), Germany(61c/kW), and was recently adopted in Canada (66c/kW through Green Energy Act) as well. 

As it happens in free markets, the states that will lead the solar revolution in USA, will be the ones which work proactively to create and improve policies that can enable them to realize their true solar potential.
Further reading - 

1 comment:

Chris Smith said...

As a policy student at the LBJ School I am always happy to hear someone give props to effective government policies.

Let's also not forget the even greater importance of localities and electric utilities (particularly those municipally-owned) to create incentives such as rebate programs to promote energy efficiency, conservation, and distributed renewable energy technologies such as solar PV panel systems.

Austin Energy has one of the most well-regarded solar rebate programs in the US. Information on this program along with information on rebates on solar water heaters (both wise investments for the homeowner who plans on leaving in their home for a long-term) can be found on the following website:

By offering local incentives (although state laws can trickle down to local implementation) homeowners are more likely to receive information about the incentives and potentially adopt them. However, it should be noted that even though AE offers a fairly decent rebate for solar panels they have still not penetrated Austin homes very significantly. Solar PV only accounts for about 1 MW of AE's current resource portfolio (which consists of about 2751 MW of power generation capacity).

Federal and state incentives can also play a huge role in attracting investment in large-scale PV and concentrated solar facilities.