Tom Friedman clearly lays out what a place like NB (and Canada) needs to do if we want to seriously develop solar energy as an economic development driver.
Applied Materials maintains a real-time global interaction with all 14 solar panel factories it’s built around the world in the last two years. Not a single one is in America. Let’s see: five are in Germany, four are in China, one is in Spain, one is in India, one is in Italy, one is in Taiwan and one is even in Abu Dhabi.
Why are there five in Germany, etc. and none in the USA?
The reason that all these other countries are building solar-panel industries today is because most of their governments have put in place the three perquisites for growing a renewable energy industry: 1) any business or homeowner can generate solar energy; 2) if they decide to do so, the power utility has to connect them to the grid; and 3) the utility has to buy the power for a predictable period at a price that is a no-brainer good deal for the family or business putting the solar panels on their rooftop.
We got somewhat lucky with UMOE Solar – assuming that formally goes ahead. I know that Ontario is offering to buy solar power at a profitable rate from suppliers – I am not sure if they have extended this to homes and businesses.
Even with wind and other renewable energy sources – it is not as simple as trying to attract manufacturers here. It has to be tied to a firm commitment to grow local usage and to be creative with the electricity grid.