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A landmark research report out fines what would be required to move solar energy beyond a small, niche market into a thriving industry able to contribute significantly to America's energy and national security needs. The Solar Opportunity Assessment Report (SOAR) is based on in-depth interviews with more than 30 leading PV manufacturers, system integrators, and industry experts, as well as on additional research. Participants in the survey included major solar companies such as BP Solar, Evergreen Solar, PowerLight, Sharp, and Shell Solar, as well as major trade associations, current and past government officials, and leading consultants.
How can markets for solar be accelerated within the U.S.? Answers may be found by taking a closer look at the solar PV policies of Japan, Germany, and California. Combined, these three regions represent more than three quarters of all installed PV systems and well over half of PV module production on the planet. These PV pioneers have a number of common policies, programs, and incentives that provided a jump-start to the use of PV energy on their home turf.
All three jurisdictions had similar motivations: reduce their dependence on nuclear power and fossil fuels as well as their emissions of greenhouse gases. And all three have, to varying degrees, some of the following programs and incentives to increase the use of solar energy at the residential and commercial levels: net metering rebate and buy-down programs feed-in tariffs of performance-based incentives low-interest loans bulk-purchasing and governmental procurement programs tax incentives
Other common influential factors include public awareness and education efforts, intergovernmental cooperation, and funding for research and development.
Shining on Japan
Japan, the Land of the Rising Sun, is also the land of rising sun power. Its leadership in solar did not happen without considerable government commitment. Japan's government enacted consistent policies, implemented programs, and invested substantial funds to create and foster the use of PV. These efforts helped place Japan as the world's leader in solar energy utilization and manufacturing.
Several key programs guided the government's efforts to advance solar. They include: significant financial commitment in the form of subsidies and low-interest loans for PV …