New UN report predicts boom for solar energy on eve of CC9 conference kick-off

Walter J. Pilsak

Publish date: June 2, 2009

Written by: Ola Innset

The United Nations Environmental Programme today is launching a report, which concludes that solar energy has proven itself to be the best energy source in the current conditions of world financial crisis. A boom on the solar market is now predicted.

The launch of the UN report comes a day before the beginning of the CC9 climate conference in Sarpsborg, Norway. The conference has as its goal contributing to the conclusion of a fair climate agreement by advancing the potential of green technology and adequate funding.

The CC9 conference has been jointly arranged by The Bellona Foundation, the Club of Madrid and the Norwegian utility company Hafslund ASA.

The CC9 conference will discuss investing in the development and spread of green technologies and renewable energy as a sustainable way to stimulate the world economy and create new jobs.

The conference on Thursday and Friday is expected to be attended by 120 experts and members of the business and industry community.

Among the eminencies who will hold keynote addresses are Norway’s Crown Prince Haakon , Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, Erik Solheim, Norway’s environmental minister, US National Resources Defence Council lawyer and Waterkeeper Alliance head Robert F. Kennedy Jr., as well as representatives of business and industry.

The UN report has been greeted optimistically, and one of its authors predicts the cost of solar energy will fall by half.

“Solar technology is already ready, and we think the price will fall by 43 percent in a year,” said Eric Usher Head of Renewable Energy and Finance Unit , and Coordinator for the Sustainable Energy Finance Initiative of the UN’s Environment programme.

Usher will also be in attendance at the CC9 conference.

Huge development
The United Nation’s Environmental Programme (UNEP) report, entitled “Global Global Trends in Sustainable Energy Investment 2009” is being presented in New York on Wednesday, and one of the reports central findings is that solar energy has weathered the financial crisis best. Investment in it has grown by 49 percent in just one year, from 2007 to 2008.

Usher predicts that the technology for concentrated harnessing of solar energy will experience large growth over the next couple of years. Spain, South Africa, Algeria and Morocco are the motors of the positive development that Usher foresees.

“Consumers are the biggest winners because it will become cheaper to people to buy solar panels,” he said.

Despite the world financial crisis, investment in solar energy totalled $33.4 billion last year. A steadily increasing number of countries are earmarking money for renewable energy in their own financial crisis packages, and a total of $183 billion was put toward green stimulus packages by the governments of 13 countries in 2008.

The solar energy industry has over a long time built up the capacity on a worldwide basis and has been developing its technology. But a shortage of silicon has hindered a wide spread of the technology, and kept prices high. Now the bottleneck has been cleared and prices will plunge, said Usher.

Usher will hold a lecture at the CC9 conference tomorrow entitled ”Building a sustainable low carbon future against the back drop of a global economic crisis.”

Watch the conference live by clicking here.

Ola Innset reported this story and Charles Digges contributed.