Solar power forum highlights shining benefits and sheds light on bureaucratic foot dragging

Publish date: December 11, 2009

COPENHAGEN – Former Costa Rican President José María Figueres told a Bellona hosted forum on solar energy in Copenhagen that solar power empowers individuals, as a solar panel on your own roof automatically means you are producing your own energy and do not require power from outside sources.

In Copenhagen this Friday, solar was the word of the day in the Bellona Room at the Copenhagen climate talk’s Bella Center. Bellona’s side events began with a meeting arranged in cooperation with the Norwegian solar energy business REC.

Giving power

Figueres was Costa Rica’s president from 1994 to 1998. He is now affiliated with the Global Observatory group, the influential climate change education organisation, as a climate ambassador – along with other luminaries such as International Panel on Climate Change head Rajendra Pachauri, South African Nobel Peace Laureate Desmond Tutu, and British mega-entrepreneur, Sir Richard Branson.

“We must show people that solar power is here now, that it is useful, and not just a high tech vision from the future of California,” said Figueres, who is also a member of the Club de Madrid of former heads of democratic states.

“It empowers people to have their own solar panels on the roof and produce their own energy,” said Figueres.

Three areas

Figueres identified three important areas in which work must be done in order for solar energy to reach some of its potential: public communication, price level and the bureaucracy surrounding the implementation of solar energy.

“We must work with pricing, and we must ensure that you don’t have to go through such a paper mill to start up solar power as you do today,” he said.  

Significant resistance

Bellona President Frederic Hauge also focussed on the bureaucracy and other impediments to full-scale solar energy exploitation.

“There are many more barriers than just the technology, and there is great resistance to solar energy,” Hauge said. “Both oil and coal receive some $300 billion annually in subsidies. Emissions could be cut by 10 percent if these were removed, and by even more, if subsidies were given to solar power instead.”

Effective energy

REC’s director, Ole Enger explained the vastness of solar energy’s potenial over other sources of energy.

“The world needs more and more energy, and the traditional fossil fuel sources are not able to give us what we are going to need.In the course of one hour, we gets as much energy from the sun as the world consumes in a year,” Enger said.

“Solar panels have a 25-year lifespan, after a year of use they have already produced more energy than it cost to make them. In addition, they are more effective because the energy is produced directly by or where it is consumed, and we therefore do not have to send it via the grid, which is a huge drain,” he said.

The presentations were followed by a panel discussion with Erik  Sauar (REC), Dr. Murray Cameron (vice president of the European Solar Energy Association), and Eduardo Montalvo (from the Spanish Climate Change Bureau). See a video of the meeting here.

Press contact for Bellona in Copenhagen:

Tone Foss Aspevoll, Head of information, the Bellona Foundation: +4791720267;

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