‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.’ That’s certainly a useful philosophy. But it still leaves an awfully long journey, and a huge amount of individual effort if the whole journey is to be done on foot.
Little wonder then that the coming of the railways brought with it such a revolution, allowing hundreds of people at once to take their ‘journeys of a thousand miles’. Of course, those early railways needed vision, planning and investment — whether from governments or the rail infrastructure companies, or both.
There’s a parallel there with our renewables industry — how very much faster things can move when it’s not just down to individuals, or small companies, or towns or regions to take their individual steps, but when they can use the railway. Ideally that railway allows passengers to plan their journey well ahead because it runs on schedule, won’t be cancelled, and the ticket price is fixed (with maybe a discount for passengers who haven’t travelled much before) … I’m sure you get the picture. Once again, it’s about long-term policy and market certainty, of course.
That’s an undercurrent in several of the features in this issue of Renewable Energy World magazine. Such as Mark Hankins’ excellent article on sub-Saharan Africa, where policy-makers are taking a new look at renewables and where getting the right market/policy strategy in place can make a world of difference. Elisa Wood reports from Texas, which has taken a massive strategic step in its transmission planning, providing a sound footing for further wind development. Gerhard Stryi-Hipp looks at how Germany’s revised feed-in tariff could affect the PV markets there, while Andrew Kinross contemplates how the US solar — especially PV — market will respond if the investment tax credit is not renewed. And David Appleyard takes a look at the UK offshore wind situation — will it be gloom, or boom? Several features this issue — including the Last Word — make a plea for the oft-ignored renewable heating sector.
Oh yes — back to the railway. If you know there’s a good direction to head, it’s surely worth building a line.