Washington, D.C., United States [RenewableEnergyWorld.com] U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords’ (D-AZ) has introduced the Solar Technology Roadmap Act, which is now on its way to the full House after earning strong bipartisan support in the Science and Technology Committee.
Giffords’ legislation would require the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to appoint a group of experts to create a long-term plan to guide solar energy research and its transition into commercial uses. The bill also authorizes $2.25 billion for solar research over the next five years.
The group would identify research and development that needs to occur to help improve the performance and reliability of solar technologies, decrease cost, reduce water use and mitigate any negative environmental impacts. It would be subject to a comprehensive revision every three years to keep it current.
“Twenty years ago, the U.S. was in danger of losing its semiconductor industry to Japan,” Giffords said. “In response, the industry created the Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors. The focus of this initiative was creating a roadmap to guide research and development efforts across the industry. By increasing communication between the diverse members of the supply chain, the U.S. semiconductor industry was able to develop standards and avoid the duplication of research efforts. These organized coordination efforts gave rise to U.S. semiconductor giants such as Intel and AMD, and the U.S. continues to lead the world in semiconductor development.”
Giffords noted that her bill would require DOE to engage diverse stakeholders in the solar community and work across programs to create a comprehensive plan to guide funding for the research needed to make the U.S. the global center for solar innovation. She laid out some of her ideas for solar development in a column for RenewableEnergyWorld.com earlier this year.
Giffords’ bill, in addition to the renewable energy provisions in the climate bill (both the house and senate versions), as well as the funding being released from the stimulus package, signal that renewable energy is a policy priority in the Capitol. And new polling suggests that political leaders are in tune with the American public when it comes to renewable and specifically solar energy.
The results of the 2009 Schott Solar Barometer, a nationally representative survey conducted by independent polling firm Kelton Research were released this week, and the survey found that 92 percent of Americans think it is important for the U.S. to develop and use solar energy.
This support for solar power is consistent across political party affiliation with 89 percent of Republicans, 94 percent of Democrats and 93 percent of Independents agreeing that it is important for the U.S. to develop and use solar power.
Furthermore, 77%of Americans feel that the development of solar power, and other renewable energy sources, should be a major priority of the federal government, including the financial support needed.
“The Schott Solar Barometer confirms our belief that Americans are ready for solar energy,” said Dr. Gerald Fine, president and CEO of Schott North America. “We’ve invested over $100 million in Albuquerque, New Mexico and created hundreds of green jobs manufacturing innovative solar products.”
The poll also showed that if they had to choose one energy source to financially support if they were President, 43% of Americans would opt for solar over other sources such as wind (17%), natural gas (12%) and nuclear (10%).
“With controversial debates happening all over America, this isn’t one of them,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association. “Americans overwhelmingly want clean, reliable solar energy for their homes and businesses. It’s now time for Congress to listen to the American public and prioritize the use of solar in upcoming energy legislation. By expanding the U.S. market for solar, Congress will reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions while creating jobs in all 50 states.”
Almost half of all Americans (49%) say they’re currently pondering solar power options for their home or business – and another three percent already have solar power. But most feel they lack information – fewer than one in five (12%) can claim that they’re extremely informed about the subject of solar power in general.
The Schott Solar Barometer Survey was conducted by Kelton Research between August 31 and September 8, 2009 using an email invitation and an online survey.