Cooper: New Energy Symposium

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1 Cooper: New Energy Symposium What will the market for solar energy look like in three different time horizons, 5 years out, 10 years out, 20 year out? Note that various projections have PV reaching grid parity in the 2015 time frame. The Broader Picture: Solar energy growth is now clouded by the fact that Congress is deadlocked and this week, according to Joe Kennedy, did not renew the credits for alternative fuels and technologies. At the same time Bush Administration spokesmen have been posing offshore drilling as the immediate answer to the relative scarcity of oil they want greater rights and leases to drill off the coasts of Florida and California. At a time when strident voices are demanding national programs to begin to deal with climate change, this just shows how to what an extent this is an old fight involving those that don't want change with those who see the need for new solutions and approaches. The present situation, however, is broader in scope than the struggle between the old and the new. The current worldwide scenario is more complicated, crosses more boundaries, and has greater potential to seriously harm human civilization. The last time we had an economic fight this big the forces of industrialism defeated agrarianism during the American Civil War. The current energy situation is so big and dramatic because energy represents the foundation of life as we know it, and controlling its production is complicated by the power of cartels, the clashes of civilizations, competition among nations, and climate crisis. Petroleum market domination by state supported international cartels, the industrialization of China and India, terrorism, and, most important, climate change, have all created a perfect storm. Congress fails to renew alternative energy credits and, once again, the Republicans see offshore drilling as the short term answer to our higher prices at the pump. Our government has now re opened the Iraqi oil fields under the management of the American oil companies that were in control before they were nationalized. Congress is stalemated. The American people will have to wait until we have a new government before any new legislation lays out a plan. Many Americans now see the need for fundamental change. Pouring dollars into a Middle Eastern war and off shore drilling don t make sense when our Mid West is now viewed by some as the Saudi Arabia of wind and some of the most intolerable living environments in the South West are seen as solar energy production sites that can provide electrons for the entire country. At the same time, numerous alternative energy sources have gained greater public acceptance, especially solar, and alternative sources of energy are growing. However, all told they represent less than ½ of a percent of all energy with 80% concentrated in California.

2 To make a difference the deployment of alternative energy must accelerate in a geometric progression. Many Americans want to be green and would spend $104 billion (according to a study cited in the San Jose Times) on green products but don t know what or how to buy. This highlights the gulf between what we are beginning to see as a solution and the challenges of strategic implementation. The stakes are enormous. Do we invest in offshore drilling or solar, wind, geo thermal, hydro, and other energy sources? The shift to clean energy will be an enormous undertaking involving commercialization of new technologies, education, marketing, public and consumer acceptance, economic planning, the development of new codes and standards, and government regulation. We need a Manhattan Project and a new New Deal to make a difference. In our history we have only been able to make great change during times of war or great suffering. This type of transformational change only happens when there is a majority party in the Senate with enough votes to kill a filibuster. We may be approaching this point for the first time in 43 years. If this happens legislation will rain and will greatly accelerate the deployment of alternative sources of energy. What happens in solar energy growth is greatly dependent on this. Most current state solar programs depend on federal matching funds. In the absence of federal programs some states will act on their own. California already has invested billions in solar and hydrogen. Connecticut probably will not. It may be technically feasible to reach solar grid parity by 2015 but highly unlikely. Society is not mobilized and we are not educated as consumers or trained as installer technicians to live and work in a solar energy powered world. In the coming year there will be private initiatives. However, they will be so small in number that they certainly won't be able to reverse the effects of climate change. Last year the State of Connecticut, through the CT Innovations Program, installed solar panels on slightly over 300 building structures. That is a miniscule number compared to the million and one half structures in United Illuminating s territory alone. To be responsible to ourselves and to the rest of humanity the challenge is to mobilize our entire society, as we have done only at certain other times, with what William James once called the moral equivalent of war. Whether we are up to the task is complicated, hopeful, and really not very predictable. The speed of market deployment involves many factors. I will discuss a few of the most important ones and highlight training needs: 1) Federal and State: Many solar projects will be delayed or completely eliminated until a new Congress is elected. Connecticut solar installations sponsored by Connecticut Innovations require a 50% cost match. They also require inspection and approval. Other solar installations may proceed but without as much competent oversight. This year CT Innovations supported over 300 new solar installations in the State of Connecticut. Federal funding may similarly affect the larger scale solar roof initiatives in New York, New Jersey, and California.

3 2) Private: Residential and commercial installations may continue to increase on new buildings and retrofits. Long term leasing arrangements may make it possible for residential and commercial users to purchase solar systems. However, many will question whether to wait until next year to see if Congress re instates solar credits or creates a totally new program? 3) Municipal: The City of Berkeley has started a solar program based on a novel bonding arrangement that enables the installation of a solar system on a residence without payment. Repayment is attached to local property taxes and is pro rated over a period of 20 years. During that time energy savings eventually reduce property taxes by the amount of savings realized. 4) A proposal that would have allowed solar installation costs to be pro rated over the term of a new home mortgage was not acted on by the General Assembly in the State of Connecticut during this spring s session. This method of finance holds promise as well. Some people also have advocated the linking of solar installations with the sale of life insurance, another interesting idea if insurance companies buy into this kind of program. 5) The rate of deployment of solar energy systems will be affected by consumer understanding and acceptance and technical know how. In addition to research in new technologies we need to train a cadre of technicians to install, operate, maintain, repair, and evaluate the performance of new systems. Consumers will demand installations performed by competent technicians whose skills are certified. 6) These programs are just beginning to be created. In last spring s session of the Connecticut General Assembly an act to create a green job training program was approved by the Appropriations Committee without a dissenting vote and was died in session as the result of a no new funds spending agreement. We ll try again this year. 7) The trend is to certify student in specific skills, i.e., PV Solar installers, and to create larger scale programs to encompass sets of skills and broader understanding of alternative sources of energy. Bronx Community College has created an associate degree in Energy Services Technologies. Gateway Community College is in the process of doing the same. 8) Other examples of states with innovative programs include California, Oregon, Michigan, Ohio, and Ontario. They vary in approach to a large degree. The GWCC approach will be to focus on industrial or professional skill recommendations and teach the content and skills required to certify proficiency. This approach is emerging as an important trend in community college education. 9) Many colleges will have to retool their educational methods and their use of instructional technology. Energy technicians should be taught in small clinical groups to learn skills according to the medical model of learning (learn, do, teach someone else how to do). This will require professional updates for current instructors and many new practitioner instructors, small class size, and current equipment on which to learn. 10) Programs also will be needed for those who design buildings and energy systems. They will have to learn new codes and standards, as will the government regulators. Our Sustainable Building Advisor Program is an example of this kind of professional update program. It will be launched in October. 11) The green training environment will provide middle technology job opportunities in many fields in the coming years related to the performance of building and transportation systems that use

4 new energy systems, high efficiency designs, and renewable and recyclable materials. These needs include the sustainable requirements of highways, bridges, and dams and other public infrastructure, and clean and waste water systems. 12) Technical workers will need to be trained in the principles of building performance, construction cost estimation, the sizing of appropriate energy systems, the use of appropriate materials, joining and fastening energy systems that have dissimilar properties, adherence to new codes and standards, land use and design in adherence to municipal climate plans, etc. 13) Many community colleges are now creating non credit to credit program bridges to attract and motivate students who start college lacking academic skills. In our attempt to address some of the problems related to poor student performance and a 60 70% loss rate among freshman, a rate that is common today, we have created programs that teach entry level job skills, imbedded academics, and social skills for the workplace. Successful participants will qualify for a job, earn some academic credit, and ascend a career ladder one step at a time. 14) Non credit programs are now receiving greater attention relative to teaching entry level technical skills and eight states now provide financial aid for non credit career students. Pennsylvania has a guaranteed free training program for business. Financial aid for non credit programs will be a key factor in teaching job skills to many in the large population of under prepared students. It is a key factor in economic development. 15) Our current economic and climate crises demonstrate the great need for public awareness, community support, and marketing to create a climate of change. Technical innovation will not cause change without marketing and public acceptance of cleaner and more efficient technologies. The GWCC Transportation Department was ready to train installers to perform natural gas conversions on cars and trucks. This attempt failed several years ago because there was no public education campaign to educate the population on the benefits of a natural gas conversion. 16) Our culture needs to give much greater attention to the requirements of normal inspection, maintenance, and repair. Currently, we do this on an extremely haphazard basis and we are not motivated to act until the next bridge collapse or runway disaster. We can and should have fully funded programs that guarantee the public welfare through the normal, regular, and periodic inspection and repair of all buildings and public infrastructure. It is foolish not to regularly appropriate funds for these critical functions. It is the government s responsibility to set standard, inspection schedules, and funds to repair and update facilities. It is time to be adults and be responsible regarding our environment, public infrastructure, and water resources. 17) Some time ago I had the opportunity to discuss the Minneapolis bridge collapse with a friend from England. When I was told about the English practice I was delighted because it all seemed so reasonable to me. In England several people probably would be assigned to a bridge like the one in Minneapolis. Their job would be to inspect, repair, paint, and generally maintain that bridge. When they were done with one complete cycle they would start all over again, and so the process would continue. We can t just build structures and not maintain them waiting for the next collapse. It is high time we get serious about our environment, our water, and our public infrastructure and act like responsible adults to preserve them.

5 What are the top market barriers to expanding the residential and commercial solar market today? The top market barriers include marketing and public acceptance, financing, a trained workforce, and building inspectors who know and can enforce appropriate codes and standards. How can state initiatives address those barriers with simply providing incentives? In my opinion, RPS solar compliance requirements are still incentives. States can address barriers by providing more public information, inspiring public acceptance, and by providing training for workers. In some cases codes and standards need to be developed. An effective solar strategy would include a concerted approach of many of the suggestions I discussed above.

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