Photo via Physorg
Despite the harsh recession, the solar power industry appears to have continued to grow at fairly rapid clip. The Solar Energies Industry Association has released its report for 2009, and the findings are encouraging: installations generating 441 Megawatts of power were put up, manufacturing costs went down, the industry attracted $1.4 billion worth of investment in venture capital, and the industry grew 17,000 American jobs. And that's just the tip of the iceberg of the good news for solar:Here's an excerpt from the SEIA president's take on what this means:
While coal and oil companies laid off workers or stayed static, the photovoltaic solar sector grew by 37% percent, three new concentrating solar plants came online and public awareness and support grew. Despite an unprecedented lobbying effort by the coal and oil industries, solar saw increased support from the White House, Congress and state governments. We saw unprecedented renewable energy provisions in the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, watched the establishment of a new Treasury Grant Program and the lifting of the $2,000 cap on the residential investment tax credit for solar thermal installations. The growth in the solar industry is proving that these policy investments are paying off.
Solar now boasts a total supply chain that supports 46,000 jobs in the United States, a number that is likely to surpass 60,000 by the end of 2010.
Which is indeed rapid growth, and the kind of jobs we'd like to see more of. Oh yeah, and the cost per watt for photovoltaic power fell, and is still falling, pretty rapidly . . . Which is good news for consumers.
And I'm sure any regular readers can predict what's coming next . . . anyone?
Yup--we absolutely need to price carbon to make keep up this growth (there won't be stimulus money forever, and coal is still so effing cheap . . .). Am I getting too predictable? Well, here's something else you can do then: sign the Solar Bill of Rights (if you haven't already). It's a grassroots movement vying to level the playing field for solar power to help the industry get its legs. Check it out if you haven't . . .