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

Ranking the airlines that fly PDX

The Latest
Thursday, July 30, 2015
airlinesthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

17 airlines make stops at Portland International Airport, but not all are not created equal when it comes to customer service.


Read more...

The Backstory: Portland Youth Builders

The Latest
Wednesday, June 03, 2015
blog002 1BY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

As part of our green workplaces story, Oregon Business checked out a community service project undertaken by Portland Youth Builders, a nonprofit alternative high school. In partnership with Whole Foods, PYB built garden boxes for a Home Forward  housing site. Home Forward is a government agency that provides housing for low income residents and people with disabilities.


Read more...

5 things to know about veterans in the workforce

The Latest
Wednesday, July 01, 2015
070215-vetsthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

There are more than 10 million former military members working in the United States.


Read more...

The Private 150: From Strength to Strength

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

Revenues in Oregon's private, for profit sector maintained solid growth as the economy continued to rebound.


Read more...

Farm in a Box

July/August 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Most of the food Americans consume is trucked in from hundreds of miles away. Eric Wilson, co-founder and CEO of Gro-volution, wants to change that. So this past spring, the Air Force veteran and former greenhouse manager started work on an alternative farming system he claims is more efficient than conventional agriculture, and also shortens the distance between the consumer and the farm.


Read more...

6 key things to know about summer baseball in Oregon

The Latest
Friday, June 05, 2015
basedthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

As temperatures in Oregon creep into the 90s this weekend, Oregonians' thoughts are turning to — summer baseball.


Read more...

Staffing Challenge

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

A conversation with Greg Lambert, president of Mid Oregon Personnel Services.


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