That according to Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). Speaking at the Solar Power International (SPI) 2009 conference this week, Resch told attendees that, despite the current recession, the US solar energy industry has made great strides over the past year.
As an “industry in ascent,” however, the solar sector still has some daunting hurdles to overcome … in particular, the continued heavy government subsidies that continue to go to the fossil fuel industry, Resch said.
“From 2002 to 2008, federal subsidies for fossil fuels were $72 billion while solar received less than $1 billion,” he told the audience. “This is completely disconnected with the desires of the American people.
“Recent independent polling shows that 92 per cent of the public supports greater use of solar. And yet taxpayers are forced to subsidize companies like ExxonMobil, companies that are the richest in the history of the world.
“It’s that simple — and that wrong.”
Unlike the solar industry, the fossil fuel industry also benefits from access to public lands, Resch continued.
“Oil and natural gas companies are operating on 45 million acres of public lands,” he said. “Today, solar companies have access to ZERO. America has the best solar resources in the world and we can’t harness the full potential of the sun without accessing our sun-baked lands of the West.”
Resch ended his comments with a call for a “Solar Bill of Rights” that would “fight for equality and liberty in the energy market.”
“There is no difference in this room nearly as big as what we stand to lose if we try to drag policymakers into a solar-vs.-solar debate,” he said. “Our debate — and one in which victory will benefit us all — is between solar and less viable and less sustainable alternatives. There is ample room for debate among us, but this Bill of Rights should unite us all.”