During the Copenhagen Climate Conference, President Obama announced findings from the Environmental Protection Agency that the six major groups of greenhouse gas emissions are “an endangerment” to public health and welfare. This could lead to stricter emission regulations for vehicles, manufacturing and power plant emissions.
This also shines an even brighter light on low CO2 emitting technologies such as solar energy. Opportunities are ripe for policy makers to “get out of their own way” and help the industry grow by reducing the difficulties for projects including increased funding and smoother, reduced time for acquiring permits – especially now that the media are reporting that the “recession” has hit the solar industry.
Permit acquisition is one of the largest barriers to seeing solar utility projects come to fruition. Mike Nedd, Assistant Director – Minerals and Realty Management with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) notes that the BLM has received a large amount of proposed applications for renewable energy projects and have set in motion ways to respond to the applications in a timely manner.
“We have responded by partnering with the Department of Energy on the Solar PEIS, by working through the Federal budget cycle to fund Renewable Energy Coordination Offices and renewable energy related positions, and by developing a coordinated, focused effort to move projects through the environmental review and permitting process more quickly but without taking shortcuts,” said Nedd who will be a presenter at the upcoming Solar Power Generation USA conference in Las Vegas on January 20-21, 2010.
While the move to streamline the permitting process is needed, it shouldn’t happen to the detriment of the environment. Therefore, the solar industry and environmental organizations will need to forge stronger relationships to ensure solar energy sees the light of day.