Industry glut clouds solar job forecast

| Print |  Email
Wednesday, October 01, 2008

PortlandHabilitation


STATEWIDE Solar power remains a narrow bright spot within the gathering gloom of Oregon’s job market. But the picture grows a little hazier when you factor in the competition.

State leaders have poured millions of dollars into subsidizing solar installations and photovoltaic manufacturing. Oregon is expected to become the nation’s leading manufacturer of solar cells by next year. SolarWorld, Solaicx, Peak Sun Silicon and promising Intel spin-off SpectraWatt are hiring production workers, financial analysts, engineers and technicians.

Rumors have been circulating for months that even larger solar manufacturers are also eyeing Oregon, including Sanyo Solar USA LLC, a pioneer in using amorphous silicon to improve efficiency. All of which could add up to thousands of new jobs in an economy reeling from a protracted slowdown in building, manufacturing and timber.

But Oregon is far from unique in shooting money at the sun. New manufacturing plants continue to pop up in China, Singapore, India and South Korea, not to mention Arizona, Massachusetts and New Mexico. Competition should bring prices down over time, boosting the market, but in the shortterm solar is nowhere near competing with wind power, much less coal, without subsidies.

This is a problem because subsidies are expiring in the world’s top three solar markets, Germany, Spain and the United States. Experts at a recent conference in Valencia, Spain, attended by Oregon officials estimated that supply will double demand by 2010; some went so far as to declare that the solar bubble has burst.

Oregon officials insist that is not the case. But they do find themselves wagering heavily on something beyond their control: an extension of federal investment tax credits for solar projects. A recent report commissioned by the Solar Energy Industry Association estimates that extending the tax credits through 2016 could create 440,000 jobs nationally and 10,000 in Oregon.

“The reality is that Oregon’s strategy is fairly dependent on the outcome of federal solar policy,” notes Christopher Dymond, senior energy analyst for the Oregon Department of Energy. Still, as Dymond sees it, the question for solar is not if but when. “Oregon’s current slight lead gives us the edge,” he argues, because “most other states are just waking up to the economic benefit of manufacturing local renewable energy systems.”


BEN JACKLET

 

More Articles

Labor Pains

February 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Thinking about starting an internship program? Be careful. Navigating unpaid internships can be tricky.


Read more...

Raising the Stakes

February 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

The 2014 Bend Venture Conference set a record for the most cash, investments and prizes awarded at an angel conference in the Pacific Northwest. Investments in the six winning companies exceeded $1 million. The 11th annual conference was hosted by Economic Development of Central Oregon.


Read more...

Will Medford Ever Be Cool?

February 2015
Friday, January 23, 2015
BY DAN COOK | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

A real-estate developer and a Lithia Motors executive aim to revamp the city's forlorn downtown.


Read more...

Leading with the right brain

News
Tuesday, December 09, 2014
120914-manderson-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

On the eve of the Portland Ad Federation's Rosey Awards, Matt Anderson, CEO of Struck, talks about the transition from creative director to CEO, the Portland talent pool and whether data is the new black in the creative services sector.


Read more...

Light Moves

February 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Fittingly, Light at Play — a business whose sole purpose is to create mesmerizing ambience — was conceived at Burning Man.


Read more...

Ski traffic

News
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
0121-skiway-thumbBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

A place-based multimodal transportation plan for Mt. Hood is long overdue.


Read more...

Tackling the CEO-worker pay gap

January-Powerbook 2015
Thursday, December 11, 2014
BY OREGON BUSINESS STAFF

An SEC rule targets the disparity between executive and employee compensation, reigniting a long-standing debate about corporate social responsibility.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS