solar energy

solar energy

“This was a policy designed to start the industry, which is what actually happened,” Wilhelm said of North Carolina’s incentives programs. “The energy policy of the state has not created a bubble.”

Strata Solar CEO Markus Wilhelm, who counts his company among the largest solar developers in the nation, said North Carolina’s solar renaissance is “something that only happened because the state’s been very supportive of renewable energy.”

Stephen Kalland, executive director of the N.C. Solar Center, said he’s frustrated with those who get worked up over solar subsidies but turn a blind eye to subsidies for the oil and nuclear industries.

Before the 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, Japan had all but neglected renewable forms of energy, instead emphasizing atomic power, which it hoped would provide half of the nation’s energy by 2030. But the accident at Fukushima forced the shuttering of the country’s 50 operable reactors, only two of which have been restarted. The remaining shutdowns could prove temporary, with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledging that restarts of reactors have been deemed safe. A majority of Japanese, though, remain opposed to atomic energy, and analysts say the solar takeoff highlights Japan’s appetite for other options.

The feed-in tariff is the legacy of Naoto Kan, Japan’s unpopular prime minister at the time of the Fukushima disaster, who decided after the meltdowns that atomic power was too dangerous for this earthquake prone-country. So Kan made a deal with the opposition party. He’d resign only after Japan’s parliament cooperated to pass several bills including a renewable energy bill that established the tariff. Japan, Kan said, should boost renewables to account for about one-fifth of Japan’s energy mix by the 2020s. At the moment, they account for about 10 percent, most of that coming from hydroelectric sources.

The other is the state’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard, enacted in 2007. It requires electric utilities to offset retail power sales with clean energy and allows the utilities to charge customers extra for that power if necessary.

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