Solar energy can provide a third of the world's energy by 2060 if politicians commit to addressing climate change, but rather than subsidizing particular solar technologies like PV or thermal, a better strategy is to put a price on carbon, says The International Energy Agency (IEA).
Putting a price on carbon would spur widespread innovation and would be more effective than subsidizing individual technologies.
Government policy needs to take an "integrated approach combining solar with energy efficiency and having as its main objective an increase in total system efficiency and the reduction of total costs," he added. "Every good renewable energy policy starts with energy efficiency."
"Integrating all solar technologies in a system-oriented policy approach will unlock the potential of solar energy within the broader set of low-carbon technologies needed for a future sustainable and more secure global energy mix," says Paolo Frankl, Head of IEA's Renewable Energy Division.
The IEA details how policy makers can best encourage rapid deployment of solar energy while furthering cost reductions in its new book, Solar Energy Perspectives.
Some Subsidies Important, However
"A portfolio of renewable energy technologies is becoming cost-competitive in an increasingly broad range of circumstances, in some cases providing investment opportunities without the need for specific economic support," says the IEA in "Deploying Renewables 2011." It's important for cost reductions to continue, and they are, they say.
But subsidies for a limited time may be justified for technologies that are not yet competitive to give an incentive for investing in them, says IEA.
"Each of the sectors has been growing strongly, at rates broadly in line with those required to meet the levels required in IEA projections of a sustainable energy future."
17 Renewable Energy Projects for Public Lands
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced the 17 renewable energy projects it's prioritized for development in 2012.
The 9 solar, 6 wind, and 2 geothermal projects add up to 7,000 megawatts.
All but one solar project is solar PV and range in size from 115-7750 acres. The largest is McCoy Solar, a 660 MW solar PV plant planned for California.
Wind projects vary from 2400- 107,105 acres - the largest is Choke Cherry/Sierra Madre in Wyoming, a massive 3000 MW project.
BLM developed the list with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service.
Reforms Will Streamline Renewable Energy on Indian Land
Also this week, sweeping reforms on American Indian lands were announced to spur renewable energy and economic development.
Calling them "The most comprehensive reforms of Indian land leasing regulations in more than 50 years," says Sec't of the Interior Ken Salazar, they will streamline approval of everything from home mortgages to renewable energy projects.
The existing regulations, adopted in 1961, take an antiquated, "one-size fits all" approach to processing all surface leases. There's no defined process or deadlines, so even a simple mortgage application can languish for several years waiting approval from the federal government.
The proposed reform identifies specific processes - with enforceable timelines - through which the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) must review leases. The regulation establishes separate, simply processes for residential, business, and renewable energy development, so that, for example, a lease for a single family home is distinguished from a large solar energy project.
BIA would have a 30 day-limit to issue decisions on residential leases, subleases, and mortgages and 60 days for commercial or industrial development leases and subleases. If BIA doesn't make a decision by the deadline, the leases automatically go into effect.
As trustee, Interior is responsible for managing 56 million surface acres in Indian Country.
"At its core, this reform is about good government and supporting self-determination for Indian Nations," says Echo Hawk, Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs. "The revised regulations will bring greater transparency, efficiency and workability to the Bureau of Indian Affairs approval process, and will provide tribal communities and individuals certainty and flexibility when it comes to decisions on the use of their land."
Other proposed changes would eliminate the requirement for BIA approval of permits for short-term activities on Indian lands, such as parades; and requires the BIA to approve leases unless it finds a compelling reason to disapprove. Under the new rule, the BIA would defer to the tribe's negotiated value for a lease of tribal land and would not require additional, costly appraisals.