Friday, May 16, 2008

Too Much of a Good Thing?

I’ve written about this many times in this space: the United States has no national plan to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. And it’s only because we have no leadership and, therefore, our tax structure and incentives are inadequate. China, Japan and Germany are the leaders in solar cell production. Below is a link to a recent New York Times article "Germany Debates Subsidies for Solar Industry." Ironically, the dispute in Germany is whether to curtail some incentives, as they’ve been “too successful,” and this in a country that has less annual sunlight hours than much of the United States.

To briefly quote from the article, “with wind, biomass and other alternative energy also growing, Germany derives 14.2 percent of its electricity from renewable sources…At the moment, solar energy adds 1.01 euros ($1.69) a month to a typical home electricity bill, a modest surcharge that Germans are willing to pay.”

The fear in Germany is that surcharge will have to rise to continue to underwrite the expansion of their solar industry. Seems like a small price to pay for energy independence. Strange that the United States will have to follow the leadership of a country that was an adversary only a few decades ago.