SEIA Report: US needs to catch up on solar PV

A new report from the US Solar Energy Industry Association urges the US government to support the industry through a number of specific steps, to retain competitiveness against the tremendous growth of solar photovoltaic production in Germany and Japan.

The report notes that industrial policy favoring solar power installations in Germany and Japan has greatly strengthened the industry in those nations, leading to enormous growth and technology advances that are leaving the US behind. The specific recommendations of the report are as follows:

• Enact a residential and commercial tax credit that augments current state and federal support. The first 10 kW installed would receive a 50% tax credit capped at $3 per watt. Any amount above 10 kW would be eligible for a 30% tax credit capped at $2 per watt. Decreasing the caps by 5% per year will encourage a steady decline in prices and ease the transition to a market without tax credits.
• Modify the wind tax credit for solar so that it can be used in concert with the existing 10% investment tax credit.
• Establish uniform net metering and interconnection standards to give solar power owners simple, equitable access to the grid and fair compensation.
• Boost federal government procure-ment of solar power to $100 million per year to build public-sector markets for solar power.
• Support state public benefit charge programs and other state initiatives to advance solar power and build strategic alliances with public and private organizations to expand solar markets.

* Increase R&D investment to $250 million per year by 2010.
• Strengthen investments in crystalline silicon, thin film, and balance-of-systems components, as well as new system concepts, that are critical to the industry now—reducing the gap between their current cost and performance and their technical potential.
• Support higher-risk, longer-term R&D for all system components that can leapfrog beyond today’s technology to new levels of performance and reduce installed system costs.
• Enhance funding for facilities and equipment at centers of excellence, universities, national labs (Sandia National Laboratories and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory)—as well as the Science and Technology Facility at NREL—to shorten by 50% the time between lab discoveries and industry use in manufacturing and products.
• Grow partnerships among industry, universities, and national laboratories to advance PV manufacturing and product technologies.

They project forward the continued 35% growth rate of solar photovoltaic installations and conclude that by 2025, half of all new electric power installations in the US could be solar. My only questions - why stop at half, and why only $250 million for solar panel R&D (current US government spending on this is a compartively tiny $80 million).

The SEIA appears to have met with congressional representatives, where they presented this report, earlier this week.

Created: 2005-01-29 05:39:59 by Arthur Smith
Modified: 2005-02-03 04:58:55 by Arthur Smith