To document the potential of solar PV energy, Gorbachev referred to the Global Solar Report Card, put together by Green Cross International and its American affiliate, Global Green USA, which analyses 16 countries’ investments in solar energy.
In the report Germany received an A-, as the highest-scoring country with most solar PV installed. However, although Germany was said to have put in place "promising drivers for future growth”, the country finished with only 70 out of a 100 possible points. Next came the state of California with a B, having implemented a 10-year, US$3 billion rebate programme for solar PV.
Matt Petersen, chairman of Green Cross’ Energy Programme and president of Global Green USA, said, “Solar [PV] is a key strategic investment that can help combat energy poverty, create economic growth and help fight climate change. We need governments to urgently shift subsidies for oil, gas and coal toward solar and renewable technologies to create jobs, improve the lives of those in need, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The G-20 must make long-term commitments to solar, enabling the private sector to further reduce costs via economies of scale and technological advancements.”
The report card that ranks countries' progress with installing Solar PV is based on a 100-point system that allocates a maximum of 30 points to the amount of solar PV installed so far, and the remaining 70 points to drivers for future growth (56 points for financial incentives, 12 points for regulatory incentives and 2 points for educational and advocacy efforts).
- Germany (A-), which scored highest being the country with most Solar PV installed and having put in place promising "drivers for future growth", still finishes with only 70 out of a 100 possible points;
- The state of California (B), also scored well in 2nd place, having implemented a 10-year, US$3 billion rebate program for solar PV;
- Spain (C+), which has seen tremendous growth since 2007, overtook the US in 2008 as the 3rd country with the most installed Solar PV. A period of policy uncertainty followed by a decision to cap the market for 2009 negatively affected Spain’s grade. However, based on Spain’s Solar PV installed capacity for 2008, Spain would score a B;
- The USA (C+), with the extension of its only federal-level financial support for solar PV, assured a much needed long term commitment to the sector. Additional support has since been allocated in the context of the stimulus package. Still, much more could be done in a country with such solar, financial and technological resources;
- Countries such as Italy (C+), France (C+) and Greece (C-) fare moderately because of still young solar PV markets, but all earn points for putting in place substantial drivers for growth. Recent efforts focused on lifting bureaucratic hurdles, which have in all 3 cases acted as significant barriers to market take up. Solar PV markets are expected to grow in these countries moving forward;
- With recent policy changes, Australia (C) missed an opportunity to put in place a considered federal-level policy to capitalise on tremendous solar resources and spur significant investment in the country’s solar PV sector. Similarly to the US, the country could do much more to reach its solar potential;
- Japan (C), once the leading country in terms of both production and installed capacity for solar PV, scored low after ending its flagship program in 2005. Japan however, hoping to regain its solar panel makers’ competitive edge in the world market, recently put in place the first step of a new residential solar PV program;
- China (D-), which seems committed to developing a clean energy infrastructure, has set ambitious targets and put in place a comprehensive renewable energy policy framework. However, the country scores poorly here because up until March 23, the specifics for solar PV were unclear. Indeed, China just released details for a PV rebate program. The country stands to gain a lot from supporting the deployment of solar energy in general, given its tremendous energy needs, high insolation and its position as one of the three largest solar PV producers in the world;
- Finally, countries that rate poorly in the study are Russia (F) and Poland (F), with no solar PV markets and no mechanisms to capitalise on their solar potential, and to a lesser extent, the United Kingdom (D-) with a very small market and no significant support for solar growth at this time. While the UK is in the process of designing a solar support program, impact will not be seen until the end of 2010.