Jeffrey Ball, the former environmental editor for the Wall Street Journal, has written an article in Foreign Affairs magazine on renewable energy. Ball provides an overview of the technology and the current state of economic policy regarding renewables in various countries. He concludes with a list of “tough love” recommendations for renewable energy policy in the United States. Ball believes that the U.S. should not strive for solar panel manufacturing jobs, nor should it try to keep inexpensive Chinese-made solar panels out of the country. Instead, Ball recommends that the U.S. focus on upstream jobs (design, engineering, and manufacturing of equipment used to make solar panels) and downstream jobs (installation and repair services). He also recommends that the U.S. use new financing mechanisms that “broaden the pool of investors and thus lower the cost of capital.” Lastly, he advocates that the U.S. remove regulatory barriers, simplifying the permitting process and making it easier to overcome landowners and environmentalists who oppose renewable energy projects and transmission lines. Over the long term, he hopes that subsidies for both renewables and conventional power would be reduced and ultimately terminated.
Ball’s recommendations are indeed “tough” and provide some interesting food for thought. You can read the full article at: Tough Love for Renewable Energy, Foreign Affairs Magazine. (The full article is viewable by non-subscribers using this link through 6/18/12.)
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