Most recently, at Obama’s 2012 State of the Union Address Energy, he laid out a half dozen energy proposals, however, most of the policies he announced were either previously announced, stand little chance of passing through congress, or not that big of a deal. According to Jose Valera, a Houston based lawyer in the energy practice at the global law firm Mayer Brown, “It’s a smart, well balanced, welcome policy, and everybody is a winner.”
While the traditional fossil fuels will still play an important role in the future while we transition to renewables, in technologies like wind and solar, Obama called for extending tax credits that basically give these firms a 30% subsidy and also called for the federal government to allow renewable projects on its land.
According to Paul Bledsoe, a senior adviser at the Bipartisan Policy Center who served under President Clinton the proposals didn’t go as far as the continuation of outright grants that some in the solar industry wanted, but are still “a big deal.”
While Obama essentially gave up on passing a global warming bill this year, probably due to the Republican led congresses new lack of concern for the environment, the mere mention of global warming, as well as another long-shot requirement for utilities to buy more renewable power shows that he hasn’t forgotten the environmental community altogether.
U.S. Renewable Energy Policy
While in his State of the Union Address 2012 Obama Emphasizes Clean Energy and Environmental Policies, it is still clear that big coal and big oil still play a large role in our energy policies. Renewable Energy Rises 27% Since Obama Took Office, But Clean Car Policy Isn’t Working mainly due to the automakers tricks.
Renewable Energy Policy
Across the globe, the renewable energy policy of other nations are taking harder lines at addressing climate change, such as the U.K. RE Push May Prevent Electricity Crisis, which, according to Bloomberg News:
Britain’s policies encouraging RE use will prevent the country from suffering an electricity crisis leading to blackouts toward the end of the decade, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said.
The U.K. will build more than 30 gigawatts of power generation capacity by the end of 2016, two-thirds of it in solar, wind and biomass and the rest largely fired by natural gas, according to forecasts from the research company. That will help the nation cope with closing 19 gigawatts of fossil- fuel and nuclear power stations over this decade.
In nearby Germany, the global leader in RE, Germany’s New Solar Containment Policy however the plans may be changing somewhat:
On Feb. 23, Röttgen and Rösler announced their framework of a compromise — and it was more severe, and takes effect much sooner, than anyone anticipated.
Reactions to the New Rules
The newly proposed subsidies cut the FiT levels by up to 30 percent, limit the payback on electricity produced, and eliminate a self-consumption bonus. They also take effect on Jan. 2013 but apply to everything installed by March 9, not April 1 as many had thought. (The previous FiT structure would have cut the levels by another 15 percent in July.)
Moving further south to the continent of Africa ‘needs better policies on RE’, according to SciDev Net:
Inadequate policies and regulations, rather than a lack of funding, is the main reason for Africa’s failure to exploit its huge RE potential, according to Adnan Amin, director-general of the International RE Agency.
His comments came at the launch of a UN Environment Programme (UNEP) report in Kenya, at the 12th special session of the governing council this week (20–22 February). The event also marked the African launch of the UN’s International Year of Sustainable Energy for All.
Over in Asia, India Introduces New Solar Policy:
The Indian Ministry for New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has introduced feed-in tariffs, which it calls generation-based incentives (GBIs), for the grid-connected solar arrays with a nominal output of 100 kilowatts to two megawatts. Overall, there is a budget for 100 megawatts of such systems. In addition, the GBI program covers small arrays with an output up to 33 kilowatts.
Meanwhile it’s neighbor China establishes RE center:
The Chinese government on Thursday announced the establishment of a renewable energy policy research center as part of the country’s efforts to realize sustainable growth for the world’s second-largest economy.
The China National Renewable Energy Center (CNREC) will study and write development strategies and conduct research concerning renewable energy policies, as well as carry out cooperative programs with the international community, government officials said at an opening ceremony for the center.
The center will also help authorities create a “developmental roadmap” for photovoltaic power, wind power, biofuel and other renewable resources, as well as collect and analyze data to be used by energy policymakers.
Meanwhile from our friends down-under, the Australian Renewable Energy Policy:
RE is an essential part of Australia’s low emissions energy mix and is important to Australia’s energy security. It plays a strong role in reducing Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions and helping Australia stay on track to meet its Kyoto target and beyond. Australian Government support for RE assists industry development, reduces barriers to the national electricity market, and provides community access to RE.
The Office of the RE Regulator (ORER) is a statutory authority established to oversee the implementation of the Large-scale RE Target and the Small-scale RE Scheme.
At the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21), they have a set of Drivers of RE Promotion Policies:
There is broad consensus that RE should have a much more important role in energy system than they currently have. Current market frameworks and other coordination mechanisms result in lower than desirable RE shares. Therefore, a deliberate RE promotion policy is required.
Some of the most important arguments for an active RE promotion policy that are valid for all countries are summarized here, though to varying degrees:
- The current level of RE in most countries is even lower than would be economically efficient at today’s market prices. As newcomers, renewable energy technologies (RET) face a series of market barriers.
- Many analysts are convinced that the long-term resource scarcity fossil energy faces is still not entirely priced-in. If current prices of fossil fuels reflected their scarcity correctly, RET would become more competitive.
- The prices of fossil fuels are highly volatile due to short-term changes and incidences in the world’s energy markets. Renewables are generally local energies and, as such, provide diversification of the energy mix with a security premium. It is widely agreed that renewables should have a higher share for energy security reasons in the energy portfolio in particular in oil and gas importing countries.
- The use of fossil fuels is, to varying degrees, damaging to the human health and the local environment. The reduction of these impacts by technical means increases the cost of fossil fuel use. Negative environmental effects (externalities) must be internalized, i.e. reflected in the energy price. All this improves the competitive position of RET.
- RET offer prospects for a dynamic industrial policy. In industrialized economies plagued by unemployment and reduced growth perspectives, as well as in some developing countries, RET have proven to be an option of developing industries with a future.
To see more on renewables, you can view the Renewables 2011 Global Status Report, which included a rise of over 30% in global investments in renewables in the past year.
Making a long story short, a good, sound renewable energy policy is extremely significant not only to our future of energy use, but to that of our planet’s well-being, and the future of mankind. Without a good policy in place and doing business as usual will mean the end of life as we know it sooner or later, so the paradigm shift must begin here and now as fossil fuels become more expensive and prices volatile in our ever changing political atmosphere around the globe. Peace my friends!