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November 1, 2021
Paul Gipe

Feed-in Tariffs Needed Now to Meet Paris Climate Targets Says Report

If we are to meet the Paris climate targets, feed-in tariffs for renewable energy are needed now more than ever says a report by Toby Couture and colleagues at Proseu, Prosumers for the Energy Union. The topic is timely as world leaders gather in Glasgow for COP 26 to discuss ways of drastically cutting carbon emissions.

The venue is fitting. Nearly a decade ago Great Britain had one of the world’s most ambitious—and successful--feed-in tariff policies. Britain’s program, based on the best practices from other European countries, launched a huge expansion of wind and solar energy. The massive development of solar energy in a country better known for rain and cloudy weather than sunshine was an example of how well-designed feed-in tariffs can bring about massive transformation in a short period of time.

Unfortunately Britain, like most other countries, abandoned feed-in tariffs after opposition from entrenched utilities and the fossil fuel industry.

 Unlike other policy mechanisms, such as the Clean Power Plan recently removed from President Biden’s Build Back Better proposal, feed-in tariffs engage consumers, that is, citizens, to build, own, operate, and—importantly--profit from renewable energy. Most proposals at COP 26 imagine enticing the same players who got us into this crisis to develop renewable energy for their own benefit.

Couture is the world’s foremost expert on feed-in tariffs, a policy mechanism going by many names that has resulted in more renewable energy worldwide than any other public policy. Proseu’s report introduces its own terminology, calling the policy “Surplus Power Tariffs.”

The report, Surplus Power Tariffs: Boosting Renewable Investment through Fair Remuneration, argues that current proposals at COP 26 will not be sufficient to meet the Paris targets, and that new, more aggressive, policies are necessary. One of those policies is to bring back feed-in tariffs, or as they call them, Surplus Power Tariffs.

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