Renewable Energy World 9/2007

Renewable Energy – With the solar industry growing so quickly, US states are eager to make themselves attractive places for solar manufacturers to set up plants. Lisa Cohn looks at what solar companies are looking for in a potential new location and what incentives the states are offering to try colure them.

Nearly a year ago, Christopher Dymond, a senior energy analyst for the US state of Oregon’s Department of Energy, decide it was time to brief the Oregon Governor’s Office and state officials about the huge potential for attracting photovoltaic (PV) solar manufacturers to the state – a potential that the Renewable Energy Project had recently identified as worth $910 million in investment in Oregon by 2015.

In addition to telling the officials about the report – which pegged Oregon as among the top 10 states likely to benefit from the creation of jobs by the solar industry – Dymon stressed the need to move quickly. “I told them the PV solar manufacturers were looking to build now,’ he says. “The window wouldn’t be open long. It seemed right to push harder than I had in the past.”

At that meeting, the Governor’s staff and state development officials were shocked to learn that in 2006, solar manufacturing surpassed all other uses of silicon, he says. They were also surprised to learn that the speed at which the PV solar manufacturing industry was doubling its output was increasing. That means end-user costs were dropping. ‘With every doubling of output, you get an 18% reduction in solar costs,’ he says. What’s more, he told the officials, the PV solar industry was growing at more than 35% per year.