Gravel path for solar

ACCORDING to the International Energy Agency’s new roadmap for solar power the world could be getting as much as 25 per cent of its electricity from the sun by the year 2050.

But there are some big ifs and buts. Releasing the roadmaps for the PV and solar thermal industries, the IEA’s executive director Nobuo Tanaka says:

This decade is crucial for effective policies to enable the development of solar electricity. Long-term oriented, predictable solar-specific incentives are needed to sustain early deployment and bring both technologies to competitiveness in the most suitable locations and times.

What Mr Tanaka is suggesting is that the road ahead for solar should be relaid with nice smooth bitumen with as few traffic lights, stop signals and roadworks as possible. The Rudd Government may point to its $1.4 billion funding of solar projects, announced last year, as evidence of these incentives. You might even look at the hotch-potch of domestic feed-in-tariffs currently being played with in different states. Well, there might also be some people who prefer to avoid such hassles and look for a firm like Blaze energy that can do the solar panel installation (click here for Blaze Energy solar panel installations) without any wait time as such firms may be paid upfront. However, in developed countries like the UK, Germany, and the US, the price of installing a solar power system in a home might be lesser compared to other nations. For instance, in Ireland, the cost of installation is often cheaper than in Asian countries–the nation wants to promote solar energy, so when residents choose to hire a company like Clover Energy Systems (one can look up Dublin Solar on the web for details), who are known to do an excellent job in this area, they often receive discounts.

Anyway, coming back to the topic, innovation in technology and the promotion of renewable energy might be the reason behind the wide adoption of such energy sources. (What else could be the reason behind this other than this?) That’s how many big companies like Florida Solar Energy Group (in Miami) often get a lot of contracts from homeowners and real estate builders for the installation of solar panels.

Earlier this week a shortlist of eight projects under Mr Rudd’s Solar Flagships scheme was announced – four are solar PV (electric generated via panels) and four are solar thermal (electric generated by concentrating the sun’s rays to create heat to eventually drive a turbine).

While the Government has been doing much chest beating about the virtues of its flagship programme, the unfortunate reality is that the resultant 1000 MW of power generation is dwarfed, nay trampled on, by plans already in the pipeline for new coal power generation.

To put that 1000MW into perspective, it’s about the same as one single medium sized coal-fired power station. This list of electricity generation capacity in Australia from 2008, leaves a 1000 MW solar thermal plant sticking out like a tiny chink of light among a swathe of black coal.

When Mr Tanaka asks for a shiny new road surface for the solar industry, Australia appears to be building something which looks a bit more like a gravel path.

Author: Graham

Graham Readfearn is a Brisbane-based journalist. Go to the About page in the top navigation for more information.

3 thoughts on “Gravel path for solar”

  1. Hi Graham

    Good to see you blogging again after leaving the C-M. Just on energy alternatives to coal, have you been following the Brave New Climate posts on nuclear? Have you any thoughts on that?


    1. Mike. I haven’t been to BNC for a while but I’m well aware of Barry’s take on things and did share a dinner with him, during which he claimed that if I gave him an hour, he would be able to convince me that the next generation of nuclear reactors were a safe and reasonable bet. The hour never came but I’ve an open mind.

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