Make Rooftop Solar Mandatory!

Jeremy Leggett writes in the New York Times, with some interesting proposals.

Despite their failure thus far to deliver a meaningful climate treaty, governments in the past have proved themselves capable of complex treaties fostering common security. They could now negotiate a multilateral regime of cooperation for solar market-enablement: a globally coordinated set of feed-in tariffs aiming to accelerate solar’s descent to universal price parity with conventional energy. They could bulk-procure solar panels themselves, to speed the emergence of a mass market.

I am not sure why feed-in tariffs should be globally coordinated. Each market has different installation costs. The feed-in tariffs paid in Germany for solar would be inadequate for the Japanese market, and those paid in Japan would be much too high for Germany.

And feed-in tariffs need to be adjusted to market conditions frequently. Adding a layer of international coordination to that task would make that difficult.

In contrast, the idea of bulk procurement by governments makes a lot of sense. Actually, even the United States government is already doing that. The United States military is the largest consumer of energy in the country, and they clearly understand the potential of renewable energy, with spending reaching $1.2 billion already in 2009.

But this should be stepped up.

Starting with buildings the government owns and operates, installing solar panels on every available roof space should be mandatory. That should be true of the White House as well as every other building on the planet in public use.

But that should only be a first step.

It is way past time that building codes world wide make installing rooftop solar mandatory (possibly in the form of solar shingles).

The WHO says that 195,000 deaths result from fire burns each year.

In contrast, global warming already results in 400,000 deaths a year right now, according to a recent study.

So why do building codes try to prevent fires or reduce damage from fires at considerable cost, but don’t do anything to reduce damage from global warming? The latter problem is already more serious now than fire burns, and it will only get much worse in the future.

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