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

Stemming the tide of money in politics

Linda Baker
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
 jeff-lang-2012-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

Jeff Lang and his wife Rae used to dole out campaign checks like candy.  “We were like alcoholics,” Lang says. ”We couldn’t just give a little.”


Read more...

No Boundaries

June 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Floor plans embrace the great wide open.


Read more...

Credit Unions Perspective

June 2015
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

A conversation with Gene Pelham, CEO of Rogue Credit Union.


Read more...

Marijuana law ushers in new business age

The Latest
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
062315panelthumbBY KIM MOORE | RESEARCH EDITOR

Oregon’s new marijuana law is expected to lead to a bevy of new business opportunities for the state. And not just for growers. Law firms, HR consultants, energy efficiency companies and many others are expected to benefit from the decriminalization of pot, according to panelists at an Oregon Business breakfast meeting on Tuesday.


Read more...

100 Best Green Workplaces in Oregon

June 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

As momentum grows at the state level to introduce far-reaching environmental regulations, such as carbon pricing and the Clean Fuels Program, Oregon employers continue to go the extra mile to create green workplaces for their employees.


Read more...

The 5 highest revenue-generating parks in Oregon

The Latest
Thursday, June 11, 2015
parksthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

In 2014, total revenue for camping and day use in Oregon State Parks was a little more than $17 million. That figure may even higher this year "because we've had exceptionally nice weather," Hughes says.


Read more...

Queen of Resilience

June 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Astrid Scholz scales up sustainability.


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