Importance of consistent longterm policies

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It is important to note that policies enacted to advance renewable energy can slow the transition if they are not well formulated or are inconsistent, piecemeal or unsustained. For example, because early investment credits in the US state of California were short-lived and extensions were often uncertain, many equipment manufacturers could not begin mass production for fear that credits would end too soon (CEC, 1982). When incentives expired, interest waned and the industries and markets died with them. In the case of wind power the impact was felt as far away as Denmark, which relied on the California market for sales of Danish turbines. The US Production Tax Credit for wind energy has been allowed to expire several times, only to be extended months later. As a result, the credit has stimulated wind capacity growth but has created cycles of boom and bust in the market. Such cycles lead to suspension of projects, worker lay-offs and loss of momentum in the industry.

This on—off approach to renewables has caused significant uncertainties, bankruptcies and other problems, and has made the development of a strong industry in the US a challenge at best. Indeed, the US is the only country to have seen a decline in total wind generating capacity over the past decade (discussion with, and fax from, Paul Gipe, 1 October 1998). In India, uncoordinated, inconsistent state policies and bottlenecks imposed by state electricity boards have acted as barriers to renewables development (CSE, 2002). Even in Denmark, years of successful wind energy growth ended in 1999 when the government changed course, and uncertainty overtook years of investor confidence. By late 2003 the future of some planned offshore windfarms was uncertain, as was Denmark's target to produce half its electricity with wind by 2030 (Moller,

2002), and the number of jobs in the domestic industry had begun to decline (BWE, 2003b).

Consistent policy environments are necessary for the health of all industries. Consistency is critical for ensuring continuous growth and stability in the market, enabling the development of a domestic manufacturing industry, reducing the risk of investing in a technology and making it easier to obtain financing. It is also cheaper (Sawin, 2001). With stop-and-go policies, each time around the funds must be appropriated, a new programme must be administered, information must be distributed to stakeholders, and so on. As a result, costs of administering the programme could approach those of the incentives themselves (Dieter Uh, comments on draft text, provided 2 December

Clearly, government commitment to develop renewable energy markets and industries must be strong and long-term, with a clear intent to advance these technologies, just as it has been with fossil fuels and nuclear power.

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Renewable Energy 101

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable energy is energy that is generated from sunlight, rain, tides, geothermal heat and wind. These sources are naturally and constantly replenished, which is why they are deemed as renewable. The usage of renewable energy sources is very important when considering the sustainability of the existing energy usage of the world. While there is currently an abundance of non-renewable energy sources, such as nuclear fuels, these energy sources are depleting. In addition to being a non-renewable supply, the non-renewable energy sources release emissions into the air, which has an adverse effect on the environment.

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