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Government policy crucial to driving solar growth

14th Jul 2011

A new report by Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21) has shown that government policy is the driving force behind global increases in clean energy consumption.

In 2010 the number of nations with a renewable energy policy increased to 119 in 2010, more than double the number from 2005.

The figures show a dramatic increase in the number of developing nations with a clean energy policy.

Developed nations account for more than half of national clean energy policies as well as half the world's total renewable energy capacity.

Currently, renewable energy accounts for 20 per cent of power generation and is set to increase with more and more countries establishing clean energy policies.

Globally, the amount of government research and development invested in renewables overtook that invested by private sector for the first time. Government investment increased 27-fold in 12 months, most of it going towards solar power technology.

Such policies have helped grid-connected solar power grow by an average of 60 per cent every year since 2000.

The figures were collected prior to the release of the Australian government's carbon pricing scheme, which have added a further $13 billion in additional funds towards research and development for viable clean energy infrastructure.

Feed-in tariffs remain the most popular government policies, closely followed by direct capital investment subsidies, grants and rebates.

The report, coupled with the government's new carbon pricing scheme, illustrate the importance of government in furthering advancement in renewable energies.

"For the upward trend of renewable energy growth to continue, policy efforts now need to be taken to the next level and encourage a massive scale up of renewable technologies,” says Mohamed El-Ashry, chairman of REN21's steering committee.

Grants, rebates and feed in tariffs all have the potential to continue rapid growth in the solar and photovoltaic (PV) sector.

Australia's photovoltaic market has grown fourfold since 2009, fuelled by a drop in PV module prices.

According to the report Australia currently ranks fifth for top annual additions of solar hot water systems in the world.

In South Australia, Adelaide is aiming for the entire electric public bus system to be charged with 100 per cent solar electricity.

An estimated 70 per cent of Australia's solar power systems are located off-grid at residential, remote homes and farms.

These small-scale solar panel projects saw record investment as many people in residential areas have taken advantage of solar power rebates and credits.

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