As part of the SOTU hoopla, the Bush administration released some details of a major new initiative:

The President’s Solar America Initiative.
The 2007 Budget will propose a new $148 million Solar America Initiative — an increase of $65 million over FY06 — to accelerate the development of semiconductor materials that convert sunlight directly to electricity. These solar photovoltaic "PV" cells can be used to deliver energy services to rural areas and can be incorporated directly into building materials, so that there can be future "zero energy" homes that produce more energy than they consume.

It strikes me as a bit of an Austin Powers "ONE MILLION DOLLARS" moment. The solar industry is unlikely to turn down the money, but let’s face it: The total, not to mention the increase, is peanuts. It gets us back up to the level of R&D funding during the Carter Administration.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

More to the point, what we need is not R&D, but deployment. California just passed a $3.2 billion program to put solar on 1 million rooftops in the next 11 years. Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, but if you take seriously the fact that global warming has the potential to destroy the foundations on which our current way of life is built, and we need to seriously reduce carbon emissions now, then this remedy is so pathetically inadequate to the problem that it seems more like an insult.