Solar energy has recently instigated a power shift in the energy sector. With all the talk of peak oil and going green, clean energy sources are being adopted by many countries. The European continent has striven hard to make its mark in this field. Nations like Germany, France and Switzerland have been in the forefront. Technology improvement and cost-cutting have been primary issues of focus and radical steps have been taken to reduce the burden on household pockets.
Large scale projects have also been taken up by governments with a view to manifest their support for solar power. This support however is inconsistent and changes with changing governments. Like a lot of false promises made to win seats, untrue promises are made on the subject of solar energy as well. One such country where politicians changed their minds post-election is Belgium.
THE FLEMISH TURMOIL
The region of Flanders, in the chocolate producing paradise of Belgium is having a major solar energy crisis. One may tend to sympathize with the financial trouble that the entire economy is facing. The area had installed a laughable quantity of PV and the situation could easily be described as disastrous. In early 2013 only 606 kilowatts of PV capacity was installed and compared to the much more idealistic assurances given, this was a huge disappointment.
This poor performance in the solar field has however been the subject of a blame game. The authorities in concern have pointed fingers at the retrospective grid tax applicable to all PV systems installed in the Flanders region. Yes, you read that right! A retroactive tax. On solar power. The conditions just keep getting unfavorable for renewable energy, don’t they! In spite of cost-effective technology, with legislations like these, solar power is going to prove to be rather pocket-pinching for ordinary households.
Retrospective taxing measures are never well-received and definitely not when combined with cuts in the Green Certificate program. The whole idea of guaranteed minimum pricing that was the highlight of this program seems to have been forgotten by the people making policy decisions like this taxing scheme. All installations since 2010 will be taxable under this law. The solar power enthusiasts and propagators have been thoroughly let down by this ambushing decision of the Flemish government.
ARE OTHER COUNTRIES TO BE WORRIED?
If a little economic turmoil can make policies sway, should other countries also be scared for their renewable energy sectors? A lot of investment and promises have been made on the name of solar energy in many countries like India, Australia, even Saudi Arabia! Of course logically money into solar energy is investment not expense, but will all governments and personnel be so rational as to see that? It is quite doubtful.
With elections due in numerous countries, is the future of solar power standing on shaky ground? While many top leaders like Andrew Cuomo of the United States, have been strong supporters of solar energy and taken up huge projects, there is always some doubt regarding the position of renewable energy in the global, energy mix.