Bloomberg New Energy Finance recently upped its best-case forecast for 2011
new solar installations worldwide to 28 gigawatts, which would represent a 50 percent increase over the record-breaking year the industry had in 2010. The growth rate, Bloomberg notes, is in the range of the sales boost Apple Inc. got from iPad sales last year; the new generating capacity is equal to the amount of energy produced by nuclear power plants in both Germany and China, the global leaders in solar panel manufacturing.
(I'll be returning often to the extraordinary policy device known as a feed-in tariff that has made Germany the global pacesetter in renewable energy; I'll leave it aside for today, and let the numbers make the case for the notion that not-particularly-sunny Germany is the best legislative environment on the planet for solar power.)
If you're looking for an illustration of the importance of policy, this is a pretty solid one. Note that Florida (official state motto: “Sunshine State”; unstated policy stance toward renewable energy: meh) sits in eighth place, while New Jersey (unofficial motto: “the place people abandon for the Sunshine State upon retirement;” policy stance: SRECs R Us
!) is in second. Why? Real incentives in a welcoming policy environment. Those aforementioned SRECs
(“Solar Renewable Energy Certificates”) in particular.
Worldwide, these are bright days indeed for the solar business.