A Global Solar Report card, designed by lobby group Green Cross International to evaluate government action on solar policy has awarded the UK government a D-minus this week. Based on an assessment of the world’s sixteen largest economies, the report aims to provide a stark indication of where various governments stand with regards to their respective solar policies.
Despite the UK governments recent action on solar policy in the form of last year’s Energy Act and the setting of provisions for the introduction of feed-in tariffs in 2010, the report criticized the UK, stating that it lagged behind rival states in terms of current initiatives in place to incentivize the growth of the solar industry in the UK. With this deficiency in mind, the report offered the British government the D-minus grade along with an assessment that the solar industry in the UK remained,
“A very small market with no significant support for growth at this time”.
The Global Solar Report Card highlighted the fact that subsidies for carbon energy still outweigh those offered to renewable energy producers and that this will have to change if there is to be a large-scale revolution in the way energy is produced in the UK. The report, based on three main criteria, the scale of government incentives and legislation, the kWh of solar plant installed and campaigns designed to change behavioural patterns among the population was damning of the UK government’s failure to plug gaps in solar funding.
Although it is expected that 2010 will see the introduction of a coherent feed-in tariff, until then the government is doing little, particularly in comparison to other large economies to kick-start the solar industry with legislation. The solar feed-in tariff, thought to be the most effective means of stimulating investment in the solar industry has been highly successful in those places where they have been introduced with generous incentives for investors.
Germany topped the report card with an A-grade, an accolade based on the German government’s strong action with regards to setting up provisions for the industry and initiating a revolution in the behavioural changes of investors who now see Germany as a secure, high yield prospect for building their green portfolio. This obvious correlation between solar industry success and the implementation of solar feed-in tariffs will hopefully not be lost on the Department of Energy and Climate Change, currently going through a consultancy process on the best way to set up tariff legislation.
The number of lobby groups lending their support to the solar industry has grown exponentially over the last year with the We Support Solar Campaign acting as a focal point for members of the UK solar industry. Those within the industry will have some sympathy with the Global Solar report card’s findings and will see the absolute necessity for a strong feed-in tariff to breathe life in to the solar sector up to, and beyond 2010. The report went on to state that,
“Latest estimates by the International Energy Agency show renewable sources account for only $10bn (£7bn) of the $250bn-$300bn allocated to annual energy subsidies worldwide. If we are to deal with the current crises and the ones just around the corner, then every dollar, euro, or yen is going to have to work smarter and harder.”