The FIT takes credit for the rapid deployment of wind and solar power among world renewable energy leaders Denmark, Germany and Spain over the past decade. Similar policies have since been adopted by many other countries, leading the FIT to become a key tool for promoting renewables. The fact that the payment levels are performance-
The U.S. needs a nationwide FIT to kick-start the renewable energy industry, restore leadership in this space, and accelerate expansion of the renewable industry worldwide. The rapid expansion of the renewable energy industry is a win-win for the entire world and future generations, as well as a critical component to the long-term survival of humanity.
"The U.S. needs a nationwide FIT to kick-start the renewable energy industry, restore leadership in this space, and accelerate expansion of the renewable industry worldwide."
Why is a FIT critical?
The world is running out of cheap fossil fuels. No other replacement source of energy, abundant enough to sustain energy needs for more than 40 or 50 years, exists. If the U.S. were not running out of "cheap" fossil fuels, there would be no drilling for oil through 20,000 feet of water and 10,000 feet of ocean bedrock to reach an oil field -- an expensive, technically complex, dangerous and, overall, risky investment fraught with a number of uncontrollable variables.
Current world energy use is approximately 16 TW per year. The amount of direct solar energy that arrives on Earth during an average four-week period, roughly 1,853 TW per year, is greater than the total remaining reserves (1,755 TW per year) of all fossil fuels. Clearly, the only technically feasible, long-term solution today is renewable energy. Going forward, the strategy should be to accelerate the worldwide development of renewables as quickly as possible. This means establishing a nationwide FIT.
The most significant FIT benefits include:
Proven results -- In 2000, Germany set a 2010 target of getting a 12.5 percent share of its electric generation mix from renewable energy. In 2007, they surpassed that goal with 15.1 percent -- 20 percent better and two years ahead of schedule. Since Germany has launched their FIT program, approximately 35 to 40 countries have followed suit and implemented their own.
Pays for itself in less than a year -- In 2008, Germany's additional cost for their national FIT was $3.2 billion euros. The return on investment, calculated by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, was:
$7.8 billion euros from reduced amounts of fossil and nuclear fuels purchased
$9.2 billion euros from the avoidance of external costs
A total of $17 billion in savings for $3.2 billion in additional costs is a superior return.
Independent of taxpayer funds -- A FIT is not a subsidy and no new public debt is needed to fund such a program, making it a stable and self-sustaining proposition in any economic and political environment.
Cost reduction -- Encourages decreases in production costs and cost per watt installed.
Economic growth -- Encourages private investment, creates jobs, expands manufacturing and increases private sector research and development.
PPA (power purchase agreement) improvements -- Reduces government bureaucracy and red tape associated with a typical PPA.
Increased security -- Enhances national security by lessening U.S. dependence on foreign oil, while helping to decrease the associated massive annual cash drain.
"A FIT program is the most effective way to spark rapid development of the massive amount of renewable energy required to keep the U.S. going strong."
The Cost of Dismissing FITs
FITs are not theories. They have been demonstrated and proven. They do not need further research, development or testing. In other words, they are not the next Solyndra. In fact, FITs are currently operating programs that have been developed and honed in highly industrialized countries, and they have been in successful operation for more than 10 years. The U.S. can learn from the FIT in Germany, a country that was quick to recognize the transparency and effectiveness.
It is interesting to note that in 2006 China avoided implementing a FIT. In 2011, China implemented a FIT program, and their domestic market is now booming, with Chinese solar manufacturing having scaled up to the point where it can address this huge new market without reliance on imports.
A FIT program is the most effective way to spark rapid development of the massive amount of renewable energy required to keep the U.S. going strong. Renewable energy projects in the U.S. have often met resistance from wary investors, but the FIT policy removes uncertainty by ensuring that anyone with access to sun and wind can receive funding for a set period of time.
ECS is a clean energy and development firm with the expertise needed to thoroughly evaluate opportunities for clean energy investment in areas with established FIT's. Utilizing our network of global partners we can offer turnkey solutions for projects that promise 20 year contracts at attractive energy purchase rates. We offer a variety of services including but not limited to feasibility studies, project planning, risk assessment, technical design and engineering, project permitting, project management, and more. Contact us today to discuss your project.
Dallas Terry, LEED AP BD+C
Director, Earth Circle Solutions
Clean Energy Consulting
1712 South Main St. Fairfield, IA 52556