Home The Latest Military boosts solar power business

Military boosts solar power business

| Print |  Email
The Latest
Tuesday, January 11, 2011

By Corey Paul

A military authorization law signed by President Obama on Friday could boost Oregon's solar industry. That's because a provision buried deep within the document requires the Department of Defense to buy American solar panels.

While it's too early to say just how much business and jobs this will create in the state, the solar industry welcomes whatever support it gets from the government.

Solar is the most expensive of major energy sources, but with state support it has ascended rapidly in Oregon over the past decade. The state lured companies with tax credits and subsidies, such as SolarWorld, which in 2008 opened the nation's largest solar plant, in Hillsboro. The state continues to support solar manufacturers with millions of taxpayer dollars, standing to benefit from employment, new income taxes and capital investment. 

"We have been one of the few bright spots in a very dark sky with regard to our economy," said Glenn Montgomery, executive director of the Oregon Solar Energy Industries Association. "That success has been dependent on public support to continue to spur that growth."

Early this month, SoloPower Inc., a California manufacturer, said it had raised more than $51 million for a plant in Wilsonville and would seek a $20 million loan from the state.

According to a New York Times report, the military spending provision will likely cause tension by banning purchases from the Chinese, who are widely thought to artificially lower prices with subsidized manufacturing costs and manipulated currency. China dominates solar panel production, accounting for at least half the world's production last year, while the United States claims just $1.6 billion of the $29 billion market.

The American military is the largest consumer of fossil fuels in the world, but it's increasing its consumption of renewable energy products, as large fuel shipments are expensive and potentially dangerous.

SolarWorld already works with the government, recently supplying about 2.5 megawatts to a contractor for installation at Pearl Harbor, said Solar World spokesman Ben Santarris. In December, SolarWorld announced the hiring of its 1000th employee.

"We are investing heavily in the US market," Santarris said. "So obviously to have the government and the military valuing domestic production of solar can only be good for companies like ours."

Corey Paul is an associate writer for Oregon Business.

 

More Articles

Healthcare Perspective

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY KIM MOORE

A conversation with Majd El-Azma, president and CEO of LifeWise Health Plan of Oregon, followed by the Healthcare Powerlist.


Read more...

How to add positivity to your team

Contributed Blogs
Friday, September 12, 2014
happy-seo-orlando-clientsBY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER

I often talk about what leaders can do. What about followers? If you’re a team member and you’d like to add positivity to your team, what might you do?


Read more...

Constant Contact

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

To prevent burnout, companies are banning email and after-hours communications. But is the 24-hour workday here to stay?


Read more...

Podcast: Turn Things Around with David Marquet

Contributed Blogs
Friday, October 17, 2014
davidmarquet thumbBY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER

How can you move from a command-and-control leadership model to one of true empowerment and accountability? David Marquet did, and he took notes along the way.


Read more...

Semiconductor purgatory

News
Monday, October 06, 2014
roundup-logo-thumb-14BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Intel's manufacturing way station; Merkley's attack dog; Diamond Foods gets into the innovation business.


Read more...

Revenge Forestry

November/December 2014
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
BY JONATHAN FROCHTZWAJG

A flare-up in the Elliott Forest raises questions about détente in Oregon’s timber wars.


Read more...

100 Best Nonprofits to Work for in Oregon [VIDEO]

News
Thursday, October 02, 2014

Screen shot 2014-10-02 at 11.17.21 AMMore than 5,500 employees from 180 organizations throughout the state participated in the 100 Best Nonprofits to Work for in Oregon project.


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