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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Solar Energy - TOLD YOU SO!

Found the following articles on Fortune's website - more specifically the Green Wombat blog. Awesome developments that absolutely prove the numerously reiterated points I've made in this blog - Note that I found a very very interesting comment posted below one of the articles;

1. Nevada gets nation’s first solar power plant factory - some interesting quotes from the post;

"Here’s another sign that Big Solar’s time has come: Silicon Valley startup Ausra is building the United States’ first solar power plant factory"

"Nevada’s proximity to California means that solar power plants can be built on its side of the border to ship electricity to densely populated Southern California as well as the booming Las Vegas region. O’Donnell says Nevada offered Ausra a standard package of tax incentives but nothing extra to locate the factory in the Silver State."

See! Government gives the necessary tax incentives and then GETS OUT THE WAY!

2. Solar power plant factory to open in New Mexico - quotes;

"That solar companies are now investing capital to break ground on manufacturing plants represents the creation of a Big Solar infrastructure and, of course, a move to get on the ground floor of what is expected to be a solar building boom in the sun-drenched Southwest of the United States."

"We certainly see the opportunity for growth in the solar thermal market,” Mark Finocchario, CEO of Shott’s North American operations, told Green Wombat. “The concentration of solar thermal plants will be in the Southwest and we see that’s where the rest of the supply market will develop as well. But we would have the ability to ship product to anywhere in the world."

...and you know what? We'll probably import this equipment in time - pathetic...especially considering that our annual irradiance levels are almost 300% more than the SouthWest States in the USA!

Check out the job creation potential : "Finocchario says the the plant, which will employ 350 people, is set to go online by the end of the first quarter of 2009. Future plans call for another $400 million investment to expand the factory’s workforce to 1,500."

Below the Nevada post John Moran comments about a concern regarding the 2008 expiry of the The Production Tax Credit (PTC) for Wind Energy and the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) Acts. Here's an exact quote and notice the detail re the tax credits - can't we in South Africa adopt this?!

"The Production Tax Credit (PTC) for Wind Energy and the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for Solar Energy were not part of the Energy Bill passed by the Senate by an 86-12 margin on Thursday. Wind Energy currently receives .02 cents per kilowatt/hour (kwh) of production while commercial solar projects receive a 30% Federal Tax Credit and residential solar projects receive a $2,000 federal tax credit. These credits are set to expire by the end of 2008. Without an extension of the Tax Credits, the Solar and Wind Industries in the United States will quickly grind to a halt. This will significantly impact companies ranging from Sunpower (SPWR), First Solar (FSLR), Evergreen Solar (ESLR) to General Electric (GE), Sanyo (SANYY) and British Petroleum (BP)."

The point is clear - government must provide private sector the incentive platform to engage...AND...GOVERNMENT HAS AN OBLIGATION TO DO THIS ESPECIALLY IF THEIR ENERGY FACILITY CANNOT SUSTAINABLY SUPPLY TO THE DEMAND!

More on the USA situation which I find educational;

"The original Energy Bill passed in the House by a margin of 235-181 had called for a national Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) that would require Investor Owned Utilities to produce 15% of their electricity from Renewable Sources by 2020. It also contained an extension of the tax credits for wind and solar through 2015 at a cost of $21 billion dollars. According to the pay as you go rules of the congress, this was to be paid for by increased taxes on fossil fuel energy industries such as oil, natural gas and coal."

"Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have vowed to bring up the PTC and ITC in the next session of congress. Without these extensions, both industries will most likely cease to install projects in the United States. Solar and Wind companies would focus on the government friendly areas of Europe and Asia. As it is, the uncertainty surrounding the extension of the credits has made it impossible for solar and wind companies to forecast and plan for projects past this year. This will inevitably lead to a slowdown in the domestic renewable energy industry. It should coincide well with the recession we are about to enter due to a reeling Real Estate market and historically high prices for Energy. The lack of foresight is appalling"

Appalling? - dude, come live here in Jozi for a couple'll soon discover that there are so many more dimensions of "appalling" ;(

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