Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Enabling policies 2012

I'm thinking that maybe I should remove from this blog's portal the old photo on top of the right-hand column with me in front of my solar panels. When I first installed 11 years ago my 36 photovoltaic solar panels and got them connected to the grid, most people thought it looked almost like science fiction. At first sight, people said wow -- what's that stuff that looks like a piece of the space station?  It was real pioneering stuff at the time. Getting connected to the grid was such a novelty then that the Regional Government's Director General of Energy came to visit to understand how that worked (I think I was the second physical person getting connected in the whole of Spain, and the first one in Castilla).

But now maybe I should replace the old photo by this new one that illustrates this post, where I'm pausing alongside a huge wind turbine vane. Solar and wind farms are common place in Spain now, and more electricity is produced by renewables than by nuclear power. Whenever I travel through Spain, I'm impressed by the number and size of solar and wind farms virtually everywhere, and my own old solar installation looks tiny now. Presently, no-one is surprised anymore to see special convoys carrying huge wind turbine vanes on trucks throughout the peninsula. This frenzy shows how the wind business is buzzing, despite controversies for the changing mind of the Spanish Government about the fiscal regime awarded to Renewables. Hence I was glad two weeks ago to have the opportunty on the road to stop and jump on a truck, and pause for this cool photo shot that illustrates, I think,  the power of wind power (built in Aragon, these vanes were on their way to the Atlantic harbour of Ferrol to shipped for export, the truck drivers told me).

Earlier this week the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) announced the release of  their 900-page Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources (SRREN). I did not read the entire document, but I've read today the 25-page Summary for Policy-Makers. The main message of the report is that close to 80% of the world’s energy supply could be met by Renewables by 2050 if backed by the right enabling public policies. WWF  said they wish the report had said 100%  and I won’t dispute this. But – as Greenpeace  said the report is an invitation to governments to initiate a radical overhaul of their policies and place renewable energy centre stage,” and this is good.

The IPCC report comes out little more than six months before the start of the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All, according to a decision by the United Nations General Assembly. And of course also we have little more than a year before the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, the so-called Rio+20 in June, 2012. Could this be a good opportunity to set in stone the right enabling public policies the IPCC, Greenpeace, WWF and others are calling for?