The attempt to answer this question leads us to understand the development level achieved by this technology and exposes the dark side of the energy matrix in, except isolated cases, most countries.
We must take 2 points of view:
1) Distributed Solar Generation (Intelligent Network)
Distributed Solar generation is business for the consumer and for the country’s economy.
On the consumers’ side, it allows them to generate their own energy and to buy energy from distributors only if their demand exceeds their energy generation capacity.
For the country’s economy, because it increases their energy sovereignty and promotes job creation (professionals, installers, equipment suppliers and related sectors).
2) Centralized Solar Generation (Conventional Network)
Centralized Solar generation is business for energy generating and distributing companies and for political parties.
For generation and distribution companies, because they continue controlling the energy business.
For political parties, because they get funding and returns from generating companies and energy distributors and because it is much easier to “cut deals” with just a few than doing serious long-term work, creating a regulatory framework that truly encourages distributed generation and that benefits both citizens and the country’s economy.
Solar energy’s competitive advantage is that it can be generated in the place where it is consumed, making distribution unnecessary and eliminating all energy losses that its transport causes.
Efforts should focus on distributed systems installation and solar energy integration in urban environments, developing residential, secondary and tertiary markets.
The ups and downs suffered in European countries (the most representative case is the photovoltaic sector in Spain) that have given prominence to large-scale projects, indicate that that is not the right way and that it only benefits a few.
The future of a solid and consistent solar energy sector clearly entails:
1) A limited number of specific centralized generation projects on soil that has no other purpose and in areas with very high levels of solar radiation (e.g. semi-desert areas).
2) Encouraging installations on individuals’ and companies’ roofs.
3) Distributed generation’s development due to energetic efficiency and continuity in supply (catastrophes, terrorist attacks, warfare).
Political parties and energy generating and distribution companies have been throwing spanners in the works and the latest trick they have pulled out of their hat is charging very high “access fees” to those who have a solar generator connected to network.
This has caused surreal situations in which fines on those who generate their own power are applied or that make it more profitable to continue with the centralized generation and distribution’s “status quo” rather than investing in solar energy.
The real paradox is that most of the infrastructures exploited currently by energy generation and distribution companies were originally State assets.
Private or private with state participation companies that currently operate these infrastructures they received have well amortized them already.
They have done little to modernize them and are reluctant to invest in modern transmission networks and interconnected bidirectional measurement equipment.
What should be clear is that the future of the energy sector is the energetic efficiency, the distributed generation and the renewable energies incorporation.
These should be the 3 objectives to pursue.
While new players, technologies, situations and settings will appear; regulations or policy should encourage progress towards these 3 objectives or they will not be doing their job.
Regulation should be implemented “ex ante” and must be updated “ex post” according to the energy sector’s development, distributed generation growth and renewable energies incorporation degree.
For countries that want to seriously work for their citizens and their economy there are vast examples of regulatory frameworks that can be taken as a starting point and adapt to each country’s reality.
For example, the Spanish CTE (Technical Building Code) in case of solar thermal energy and several US states’ legislation in case of solar photovoltaic energy.