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Northeast Photovoltaic Roundtable in Albany, NY: Renewables 100 Policy Institute
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Northeast Photovoltaic Roundtable in Albany, NY

Albany, NY - On March 1, 2012, Renewables 100 Policy Institute Founder Angelina Galiteva was a speaker at the Northeast Photovoltaic Roundable, along with Danielle Merfeld of General Electric, Andrew Brydges of Massachuseetts Clean Energy Center, and Lyle Rawlings of Advanced Solar Products. The invitation-only event aimed to raise awareness of PV's role in the northeastern U.S. and to collect views and insights from key stakeholders on widespread commercialization and implementation of solar power. Included in the discussion were policy recommendations that could spur economic development with support for supply and demand of solar technology. The speakers also presented case studies from successes and failures in Germany, Spain, and the states of California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The event took place at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering's (CNSE) Albany Nanotech Complex and was hosted by CNSE, the New York Energy Society, the Business Council of NYS, the U.S. Photovoltaic Manufacturing Consortium, and New Energy New York and its partners.  

Angelina Galiteva began her presentation by noting the importance of establishing the correct framework to allow photovoltaics to fluorish. She emphasized the need to start with the right objectives, which should include increasing overall renewable energy content, mitigating security and environmental concerns, and advancing economic benefits like job creation and reduced costs. She warned that if the intent is not correct - if it is just based on "green-washed" ideas - the real world results will not be significant. 

Galiteva specified that partnership with the investment community is crucial for the successful advancement of solar - and all renewable - energy. She laid out three key drivers that investors are looking for in policy: transparency, longevity, and certainty - or "TLC." According to at least one major international financing community analysis (DBCCA analysis, 2010; Center for American Progress, “Out of the Running?”), China and Germany have policy frameworks that strongly satisfy TLC criteria, while the U.S. does not.  Additionally essential is for policy to address enhanced returns, mitigation of risk, and non-financial barriers. 

Galiteva outlined the core policy behind Germany's renewable electricity success - the country's feed-in tariff. She explained that Germany's feed-in tariff design has several characteristics that have ensured its TLC and spawned positive results.  These include transparent pricing that is based on the cost of technologies plus a reasonable profit and tariffs that are differentiated by technology. Also, unlike Spain's initial feed-in tariff design that left their program vulnerable to a boom and bust problem, Germany's tariffs are on a degression schedule, which can be reviewed for necessary adjustments. Additionally, unlike France among other places including California, which is still bogged down in bureaucratic interconnection roadblocks, Germany has streamlined interconnection procedures that clearly prioritize renewable power generation of all sizes. This helps provide investor certainty. Other key elements of the German feed-in tariff design are the requirement from utilities to pay for any needed upgrades to the grid necessitated by renewable power and the absence of program or project size caps, which has additionally encouraged robust investment.

Along with Germany's success story, Galiteva shared good news from other countries, like Italy where in 2010, their German style feed-in tariff allowed the country to install more solar in two months than California did in a year. Many rural communities in developing countries are getting power for the first time thanks to solar technology, which is ideal for these locations because it does not require cost prohibitive power lines to be built, is relatively easy to install, and has been decreasing in costs dramatically, thanks in large part to Germany catalyzing massive global solar industry advancement with its effective policies.  Galiteva shared that according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), solar may produce the majority of the world's power within 50 years. She added that solar technology will not just play a role in the electricity sector, but also in the heating and transportation sectors, as electric vehicles become more ubiquitous. 

Galiteva acknowledged some of the challenges of expanding solar power beyond getting the policies right for uptake. She touched upon the efforts needed to ensure that intermittently producing technology can be integrated on a mass scale and is confident that the hurdles can and will be overcome with proper grid management, diversification of renewable power sources, and storage technologies that will help make solar and wind dispatchable. 

Underscoring her confidence that solar and other renewable power sources are the way of the future are several examples she shared of entire communities that have already shifted to 100% renewable power. (Please see the map on www.go100percent.org for more information.) She also reminded  participants that non-renewable fuels are, by definition, going to run out - and in the meantime, are causing a cluster of convergent, existential crises - so humanity must transition to entirely renewable energy. It's not a question of if we have to, but when and how. 

To view a copy of the presentation, please click here:

Please do not reuse or publish contents of this presentation without proper credit to Angelina Galiteva, Renewables 100 Policy Institute/CAISO Board Member