By Hans-Christoph Neidlein, Sun & Wind Energy Magazine
Despite a predicted record growth of 16 GW photovoltaics in the U.S. in 2016 the opening ceremony of Intersolar North America(link is external) yesterday evening in San Francisco was pretty much shaped by politics. The focus was the democratization of the energy transition, job creation through decarbonization and a policy design for smart markets.
“Solar is for everybody”, Bernadette del Chiaro, Executive Director of California Solar Energy Industries Association (CALSEIA(link is external)) said. Already now over 50 percent of new residential solar capacity in California would be installed in middle class and lower income homes, she stressed. Utilities should cooperate and not block the further expansion of residential solar del Chiaro underlined, referring to problems with the disruption of several net-metering programs. This would also undermine further job creation of the solar sector.
“Climate protection, cleantech and solar secure our economy”, Kevin de León, president pro tempore of the California Senate and winner of the 2016 Intersolar Champion of Change AWARD, underlined. Already now jobs in the cleantech sector in California would grow six times faster than other industries. It would be historic step to further implement decarbonization and the decoupling of economic growth and energy consumption of fossil fuels. As the number six of GDP globally California could lead the way for the U.S. and other countries, León stressed. This would also enhance quality of life and health care of the middle class and lower income groups. “We have to provide as many people as possible access to clean renewable energies”, the democratic senator said.
Next step would be the coupling with electric mobility and clean transportation. As “a big step forward”, he described the engagement of Southern California Edison(link is external). The utility announced to install 30,000 electric charging stations within the next years. Presently in Los Angeles around 1,200 charging stations for electric vehicles are installed. “But there are still battles to be fought and we need more lobby work for solar and decarbonization”, León stressed. Although he is optimistic, that the 50-percent goal for the renewable power mix in California will be reached already before the year 2030.
“We need a better coordination of energy policies in the U.S. and a market design, that prevents the parallel creation of overcapacities in the conventional energy sector”, Gregory M. Wilson, Director of the National Center for Photovoltaics at the National Renewable Laboratory (NREL)(link is external) told S&WE. Similar comments were made by Lynn Jurich, CEO of Sunrun(link is external) at her opening speech.