The SEIA: Will their Solar Bill of Rights become reality? Could it work in the Middle East?
Solar energy as one of the world’s best alternative energy sources is already an important discussion topic during the ongoing COP 15 conference in Copenhagen.
One group in particular, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is pushing the use of solar energy as a major source of power for countries around the world where there are sufficient photovoltaic sources (i.e. sunshine concentrations for conversion into electricity) to provide solar energy during at least 300 days of the year.
This idea will hold in countries in the Middle East, including Israel where ample sunlight is available as much as 340 days a year. Environmental media source companies, such as America’s Tigercomm, represented by VP Mark Sokolov are at COP 15 trying to make participants more aware of the importance of solar energy as a viable and clean power source.
One of the most important and thought provoking ideas being presented by the SEIA is what they refer to as the Solar Bill of Rights, which was started in the USA and list 8 points as to why Americans should have the right to decide on having some or all their electricity supplied by environmentally “clean” solar power instead of “dirty” power supplied by fossil fuels.
The SIEA feels that this issue is of such world-wide importance that its representatives will be releasing a report at the conference on Monday, December 14 (that’s today!) showing how to achieve 12% to 15% of global electricity from solar sources by 2020; and the corresponding carbon reductions by country, including those in the Middle East.
They feel that America can be a leader in this effort as a large part of the USA has more than ample amounts of photovoltaic sunlight available to produce at least 15% of America’s total electricity needs by the year 2020, and perhaps as much as 65% by the end of this century (see map).
With all of this focus on solar energy in America and in Europe, including such EU solar energy leaders as Spain and Germany, where do countries in the Middle East fit in, where annual days of sufficient sunlight surpass even those in the USA, including solar intensive regions like the American Southwest?
A number of solar energy companies represented at the COP 15 conference already have solar energy projects either planned or ongoing in the Middle East, including a company called AUSRA, based in Mountain View California.
AUSRA is already involved in a large solar energy project in Jordan, as well as in Australia, a country-continent that is rich in available sunshine for use in making electricity.
Will countries in the Middle East make efforts to develop solar energy as a power source, even though many of them still have plenty of oil left for powering their own electric power plants?
Some of them already have become involved in solar energy, especially oil-poor countries like Lebanon, Israel, Jordan and Syria.
Others, especially in the Persian Gulf region, are also involved in solar energy projects, including Dubai, Abu Dhai, Kuwait, Oman, and Saudi Arabia.
Whether these efforts will result in residents of these countries having a solar energy bill of rights of their own is too early to tell, since this “bill” is not officially in force in the USA either; due to a number of reasons, including the continuing influence of major American energy companies who are still tied to using fossil fuels.
So as such, everyone interested in promoting solar energy as a power source will be watching to see if a Solar Energy Bill of Rights receives enough attention in a country where oil is still very much favored as an energy sources to heat and cool homes and businesses, and to propel cars and other forms of transportation.
Map and illustration via SEIA