We’ve seen it happen in the past when times get tough – politicians, desperate to keep funding for critical government programs, consider raiding existing set-asides for renewable energy.
As we watch Europe’s financial system teeter on the brink, many are preparing for the US’s own unwelcomed, but necessary austerity effort. Yet with yesterday’s deadlock by the Super Committee, we’re all left wondering if our elected leaders have been watching too much ESPN, detailing the NBA’s own failure to come to an agreement, after over two years of negotiations.
Today I attended the Clean Economy Network‘s first conference in Washington, DC, fittingly on the eve of President Obama’s State of the Union address.
Labor Day typically marks the time when our year-end project installation schedule becomes more clear. Our corporate customers, often operating on a fiscal-calendar year for budgeting, also exhibit end-of-year psychology and “get it done by year end” becomes a priority. Normal product lead times, procurement contracts, permits, and even potential interruptions from winter weather means by Labor Day our construction year is pretty much set.
This year many cleantech project developers have even more tension leading up to their 2011 New Year’s party planning. With Section 1603, the US Federal program for renewable Grants in Lieu of an Investment Tax Credit (ITC), set to expire at the end of 2010, projects which are not at least 5% underway by year end will miss the proverbial party.
Today I’m attending and speaking at the SolarTech Conference in San Ramon, CA.
The conference format broke the day into working sessions covering all major areas relating to Solar PV: permitting, finance, installation, interconnection, and a new one for the market – energy efficiency (which I’ll come back to later). At the end of the day, the entire audience voted on the key initiatives for each of working session and these rankings become the basis for 2010 SolarTech working agenda. Makes great sense.
In my former life as a early stage venture capitalist I learned a traditional VC bias against investing in start ups where government subsidies were necessary to make the technology’s economic case work. Year’s later I’m scratching my head at how the VC market has thrown out this bias in cleantech investing, an example being their heavy investment in solar PV technology.