Industry glut clouds solar job forecast

| Print |  Email
Archives - October 2008
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

The 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon

March 2015
Thursday, February 26, 2015
BY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR

Employment in Oregon is almost back up to prerecession levels — and employers are having to work harder to entice talented staff to join their ranks. This year’s 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon project showcases the kind of quality workplaces that foster happy employees. 


Read more...

A legislative preview — and celebration

Linda Baker
Friday, January 23, 2015
012315-speaker-thumbBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

The Northwest Environmental Business Council previews the 2015 legislative agenda as Hatch Oregon celebrates Oregon's new community crowdfunding rules.


Read more...

MBA Perspective

February 2015
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

Robin Anderson, dean of the Pamplin School of Business, University of Portland: "You need people who are comfortable leading in ambiguity."


Read more...

Closing the Gap: The two Oregons and the way forward

February 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT

"Nostalgia is not an economic strategy."


Read more...

6 chiefs of staff dish on their bosses

The Latest
Thursday, February 05, 2015
legilistiblog-thumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

We ask chiefs of staff for the scoop on Oregon legislators.


Read more...

Thy neighbor's house

March 2015
Friday, February 20, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Vacasa may lack the name recognition of Airbnb. But not for long.


Read more...

Photos from the 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon awards celebration

The Latest
Friday, February 27, 2015
IMG 9975cneditPHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

Images from the 2015 celebration of Oregon's great workplaces.


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