Gartner Says Obama Plan Could Boost US Solar Development and Demand

(PresseBox) ( STAMFORD, Conn., )
Barack Obama's election as the next US president could usher in a new era of solar energy development in the United States, but economic difficulties may prove a barrier to some of the more expensive renewable initiatives, according to Gartner, Inc.

"Demand for solar energy remains dependent on government subsidies, because it costs more than conventional forms of electric-power generation," said James Hines, research director at Gartner and lead analyst for solar energy technologies. "However, the new US administration could help encourage investment in solar energy projects if it succeeds in implementing some of its plans, which is more likely with majorities in both houses of Congress. This increased emphasis on renewable energy and the extension of the 30 per cent investment tax credit for solar projects - passed last month - could finally help realise the US's vast potential for solar energy. As a result, the US could overtake Germany as the largest photovoltaic market within a few years."

President-elect Obama's New Energy for America plan could have a significant impact on the US solar industry. The plan's provisions include:

- A federal renewable portfolio standard (RPS) that requires 10 per cent of electricity consumed in the US to come from renewable sources by 2012
- A $150 billion investment over ten years in research, technology demonstration and commercial deployment of clean energy technology
- Extension of production tax credits for five years to encourage renewable energy production
- A cap-and-trade system of carbon credits to provide an incentive for businesses to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

"The new president will face a difficult economic situation that could significantly impede his plans. Expensive government programmes will be hard to pass if tax receipts are declining and corporate earnings are depressed, even with Democratic control of Congress," Mr Hines said. "It is likely that the RPS will be passed during 2009, which will provide a strong boost to US demand for solar energy. The other provisions, which require significant spending or tax incentives, might have to wait until the economy starts to recover."

If you would like to speak with Mr Hines regarding this analysis, you can call him on +1 408 468 8605, or by e-mail at james.hines@gartner.com.

This research is produced by Gartner's Semiconductors Manufacturing program. This research programme, which is part of the overall semiconductor research group, provides a comprehensive view of the entire semiconductor industry, from manufacturing to device and application market trends. More information on Gartner's semiconductor research can be found in the Gartner Semiconductor Focus Area at http://www.gartner.com/....
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