Overview of WIREC 2008 (Part 2) – The business conferences

From the standpoint of attendance at least, I would venture that the Business conferences at WIREC were a success. Rooms were packed, with people standing at the back and sometimes even along the aisles. I attended the ones about the US Market & Policy Drivers in the fields of Solar PV, Solar CSP and Wind energy.

In the Solar PV presentation, we were updated on the likely scenarios for the renewal of tax incentives for the industry, with the best case one involving an 8-year extension of the Investment Tax Credit (ITC), through the bill H.R. 5351. The next vote will be in April. 

One of the panelists was Adam Browning, from Vote Solar. He mounted a spirited defense of the policy measures followed by the US to boost the solar market, as a cost-effective solution. I think he was expecting a heated debate about this option vs. “feed-in tariffs”, as he joked about hoping to have a “calm discussion” about it. This probably was because of the spirited rebuttals to his article in “Renewable Energy World” some weeks ago. This time round, though, the audience did not inquire about this issue at the alloted time for Q&A.

In fact, we might get to contrast both systems at work here in the States (feed-in tariff versus Marginal incentives). A side event at WIREC featured Congressman Jay Inslee (D-Wash) who has announced that he will soon introduce a Feed-in tariff bill to the House of Representatives.

There was also talk about “The Carbon Principles“. Some important financial institutions have set tighter conditions for financing coal-fired plants and offer guidelines for lenders about criteria to use when financing renewable energy projects. This could mark a turning point for the industry to achieve maturity.

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