Noble Goals and Practical Policies, Global Feed In Tariff White Paper

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Noble Goals and Practical Policies

PV Group solar policy paper released in conjunction with Copenhagen talks
By Dan Martin, Executive Vice President, SEMI PV Group

On the eve of the historic meetings in Copenhagen to coordinate the world’s response to global warming, the PV Group released our White Paper on solar policy and best practices in feed-in tariffs. I hope that as world leaders agree to set aggressive targets for greenhouse gas reduction, this White Paper can help guide policy makers in creating effective and practical polices to encourage widespread solar power adoption.

Entitled “Advancing a Sustainable Solar Future,” the White Paper advocates feed-in tariffs as the best policy tool available to encourage solar energy and provides a set of recommended best practices. In addition to the Copenhagen talks, the timing of the White Paper is also advantageous because feed-in tariff policies are being reviewed and revised in countries like Germany and Japan, and are increasingly becoming viewed as an option in the US. Developing markets such as India and China are also viewing feed-in tariffs as important policy instruments to achieve critical renewable energy goals.

Download a copy of the White Paper at the PV Group website:

The paper was initiated by the PV Committee of the SEMI Board of Directors which directed the preparation of this SEMI PV Group White Paper at the July 2009 Policy and Planning meeting. The board Committee believed that feed-in tariffs have proven to promote the fastest expansion of renewable energy at the lowest cost. Feed-in tariffs have been effective because they are performance-based, do not require taxpayer subsidies, and do not conflict with other renewable energy policies. Approximately 80% of the world’s PV demand has come from markets supported by feed-in tariffs.

The PV Group has been advocating feed-in tariff policy through regional policy position papers released this year for India, China and Taiwan. They have also been a major component of public policy discussions at PV expositions and conferences worldwide. Following the July Board of Directors meeting, the PV Group released a pro-FIT editorial in the August issue of the GRID. Each of these efforts received considerable member input and feedback. Prior to release of this White Paper, a draft copy was distributed to Regional PV Group Advisory Boards, as well as other PV Group members and policy experts, for input and feedback.

The goal of the White Paper is to promote widespread understanding of international PV demand incentives and identify policy best practices to create steady demand and profitable investments. With nearly fifty references to academic and industry studies, the White Paper may be the most comprehensive position paper on feed-in tariffs yet produced. It is intended as serious and credible support for general policy principles, but does not advocate any specific legislation or policy action in any country, region or municipality. There are practical and pragmatic considerations in supporting specific legislation or regulatory action that would need evaluation prior to receiving SEMI PV Group support.

One of the points we wanted to reinforce was that there are several key principles that underlie a growing PV industry. Such principles are stable and predictable public policies that are transparent and streamlined. Consistent with the PV Group’s commitment to support the development of a truly global industry, sound PV policy should also be neither discriminatory nor protectionist. Having these as well-formed pillars of a policy plan tends to lead to high-growth PV development.

The industry-wide best practices advocated in the Paper include technology differentiation, generation cost-based rates sufficient to spur demand, well-defined purchase and interconnection requirements, and fixed price and long-term payments. A key best practice can also be found in policies that enable predictable declines in payments with provisions for sun-setting terms as the industry grows and matures.

We want to thank our members for their assistance on the White Paper, and for their advice and feedback on how we can advance solar adoption worldwide. Please use the White Paper to help educate your key constituencies, and feel free to contact me with your questions or recommendations.