Green Cross International and its American affiliate, Global Green USA released the first-of-its-kind Global Solar Report Card, highlighting countries that have designed the most promising policy frameworks for sustained solar development. The report compares 16 countries (and the state of California's) efforts to incentivize the manufacture and deployment of solar power as well as their commitments to fostering the growth of solar markets moving forward.
"Solar power is one of the most promising options in the fight against climate change and is a tremendous resource that has yet to be truly harnessed and utilized. said Dr Jan Kulczyk. "Governments, civil society and industry need to work together to develop solar power and make it a viable alternative so that we can achieve a clean-energy future while promoting sustainable economic growth." Indeed, according the latest estimates by the International Energy Agency, energy subsidies worldwide range from $250 to 300 billion a year. All renewable sources put together account for about a $10 billion share of these subsidies.
Today, humanity faces a multitude of sweeping crises. Amongst them, an energy crisis, which requires us to meet an ever increasing demand; an environmental crisis, which requires all of that additional energy supply come from clean sources, and an economic crisis, which suggests a need for new models for growth.
Fortunately, solar energy stands at the crossroads of these challenges and offers an opportunity to address them simultaneously. Indeed, with today's solar technology we can access about 4 times the world's annual demand for power and we can do so cleanly. The solar industry, growing at rates of 40-50%, offers tremendous economic and employment opportunities. Furthermore, solar is a source of power which is not only clean but versatile, it can serve power providers' grids as well as 2 billion people, most of whom live in rural areas not connected to the grid and rely on expensive, dirty sources of energy.
However, solar markets are still not competitive in most markets and governments have a significant role to play in fostering environments that will be conducive to solar market growth. The report explores policy mechanisms to achieve this.
Final grades reveal that all countries are still in the early phases of solar deployment.
• Even Germany, which scored highest being the country with most PV installed and having put in place promising ‘drivers for future growth', still finishes 1st with only 70 out of a 100 possible points. The state of California, considered in the report because of its importance in the global solar and economic context, also scored well in 2nd place, having implemented a 10-year $3 billion rebate program for solar.
• Spain, which saw tremendous growth up until this year, overtook the US in 2008 as the 3rd country with the most installed PV. A period of uncertainty as to its com¬mitment to solar followed by a decision to cap the mar¬ket for 2009 negatively affected Spain's grade. However, based on Spain's expected installed capacity for 2008, Spain would score a B instead of C+ (this report uses end 2007 installations data -2008 numbers not yet available).
• A recent move by the United States to extend its only federal-level financial support for solar, assured a much needed long term commitment for the industry. However, much more could be done in a country with such solar, financial and technological resources.
• A few countries such as Italy, France and Greece fare moderately because of still young markets, but all earn points for having put in place substantial drivers for growth. Solar industries are expected to grow in these countries moving forward.
• Australia's federal level support is currently inadequate to meet the demand for solar growth. The government is considering an aggressive support mechanism, which, if adopted, could spur significant growth in the country. Similarly to the US, Australia is a country with tremendous solar, technological and financial resources that could do much more to reach its solar potential.
• Japan, once the leading country in terms of both production and installed capacity scores low, its main incentive program having ended in 2005. However, the Japanese government is considering restarting its successful residential PV program.
• China, which seems committed to developing a clean energy infrastructure to meet its growing energy needs, has set ambitious targets and put in place a comprehensive renewable energy policy framework. However, the country scores poorly here because the specifics for solar PV remain unclear. China stands to gain a lot from supporting the deployment of PV, given its tremendous energy needs, its high insolation and position as one of the three largest PV producers in the world.
• Finally, countries that fare poorly in the study are Russia and Poland, with no solar markets and no mechanisms to capitalize on their solar potential, and to a lesser extent, the United Kingdom with a very small market and no significant support for solar growth.
About Green Cross International
The release of this report marks the beginning of Green Cross International's Solar Initiative, whose goals are raising awareness about the potential of solar energy and promoting greater investments in solar markets in developed and developing countries alike. Through our network of 29 organizations, we wish to support advocacy for solar support measures and education efforts on the benefits of solar energy. Green Cross International also aims to launch a Global Solar Fund, an investment vehicle mobilizing public and private capital to support the growth solar markets in the developing world so as to combat climate change and energy poverty through solar electrification. In this perspective, the 2009 update of the Solar Report Card will include developing countries with a look at barriers for investment in solar projects.
About Global Green USA
Global Green USA is the American affiliate of President Gorbachev's Green Cross International. For the last fifteen years, Global Green has been a champion of solar power as a smart climate solution and has helped influence state and national legislation to create incentives for solar power – particularly to benefit low-income families and communities. Global Green is building The Holy Cross Project – the first solar powered, net zero energy housing development in New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward as a model sustainable village with lead funding support from the Home Depot Foundation. In 2007, Global Green provided the technical expertise and resources to help Community Housing Works build the first solar powered net zero affordable housing complex in California – the Solara.
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