Archive for July, 2010

Obama’s Tour of Solyndra Plant Gives Hope

President Obama recently toured solar manufacturer Solyndra’s plant, in an attempt to bring awareness to and promote clean energy. Prompted perhaps by the tragic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, President Barack Obama took an extensive tour of Solyndra’s facilities, then addressed a select crowd of 250 people at the Fremont company’s new factory. “The spill in the Gulf, which is just heartbreaking, only underscores the necessity of seeking alternative fuel sources,” he said.

Obama praised the entrepreneurial spirit of California and said the Silicon Valley company was “leading the way toward a brighter and more prosperous future.” He stressed the need for renewable energy, giving a nod of appreciation to the Solyndra employees and construction workers for their efforts, saying,  “Every day that you build this expanded facility, as you fill orders for solar panels to ship around the world, you’re demonstrating that the promise of clean energy isn’t just an article of faith — not anymore… It’s happening right now. The future is here.”

Last year, the Department of Energy gave Solyndra a $535 million loan guarantee funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Solyndra was only five years old at the time, and was the first company to receive a loan guarantee.  The company grew rapidly, and quickly turned into the poster child for the success of federal stimulus initiatives.

Solyndra manufactures solar panels that use nonsilicon materials known in the industry as “thin film,”, a technology which has significantly reduced the costs of commercial solar system installations.  Solyndra’s panels are normally used on flat, commercial rooftops and are installed in 200 locations around the world, including New Jersey, where local solar installation company Arosa Solar recently installed a Solyndra system for a major local business

Executives at Solyndra used the visit to impress the need on Obama to spur domestic demand for solar, saying that the federal government could install solar panels on government buildings across the country as a sterling example.

“We drove home the point that solar manufacturing creates jobs along the supply chain,” CEO and director Dr. Gronet said. “His ears perked up when he heard that.”

Solyndra has 1,000 employees and expects to hire an additional 25 employees a month for the remainder of 2010. They are expected to make an IPO very soon.

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New Solar Initiative May Create Jobs

President Barack Obama  announced a new initiative in his weekly radio and online address late in June; according to new directives, the government will be handing out nearly $2 billion for new solar plants.   Two companies, Abengoa Solar (which will build one of the world’s largest solar plants in Arizona, creating 1,600 construction jobs) and Abound Solar Manufacturing, which builds plants in Colorado and Indiana, will be receiving a lions share of the funding.

Obama was quoted as saying the money is part of his plan to bring new industries to the U.S., and that the initiative will create more than 2,000 construction jobs and 1,500 permanent jobs, and increase the use of renewable energy sources.

“We’re going to keep competing aggressively to make sure the jobs and industries of the future are taking root right here in America,” Obama said. His announcement  came a day after the Labor Department reported that employers slashed payrolls last month for the first time in six months.

This was driven by the expected loss of 225,000 temporary census jobs. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate dropped to 9.5 percent, and private-sector hiring rose by 83,000 workers. New jobs in the solar energy sector are hoped to bring relief to towns in the Southwest and Midwest, where initiatives to create wind farms are also in progress.

The capacity for generating solar power in the US is as follows:

United States map showing annual average daily solar radiation per  month
Annual average daily solar radiation per month, using a flat-plate collector facing south at a fixed tilt equal to the latitude of the site. Capturing the maximum amount of solar radiation throughout the year can be achieved using a tilt angle approximately equal to the site’s latitude.

The initiative in Arizona should prove extremely efficient not only in bringing jobs to the region, but in productiveness alone.

Elsewhere, solar power use is still on the rise.  New Jersey continues to inch up on California for usage and companies like Arosa Solar are doing everything they can to encourage ordinary home and business owners to branch out into solar generation to save money and even turn a profit once the system has paid for itself. With generous rebates and stimulus packages being offered by state and federal government agencies at regular intervals, the cost of installing a system can often be almost completely recouped.

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