1. "In June, the Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research released the U.S. Solar Market Insight: 1st Quarter 2011 report showing that in the last three years the U.S. solar industry has gone from a start-up to a major industry that is creating well-paying jobs and growing the economy in all 50 states.

    Solar’s robust growth in the past years has been the result of a very favorable combination of new, innovative business models, affordability for consumers, rapidly decreasing manufacturing costs, and most importantly, a strong commitment from the Obama Administration and other policymakers in Washington.

    In the first quarter of 2011, the solar industry installed 252 megawatts of new solar electric capacity, a 66 percent growth from the same time frame in 2010. There are now almost 3,000 megawatts of solar electric energy installed in the U.S., enough to power 600,000 homes. In the manufacturing sector, solar panel production jumped 31 percent.

    And with the growth of the solar industry, thousands of jobs have been created. In fact, solar energy creates more jobs per megawatt than any other energy source. According to the Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census, 93,000 Americans were employed in the U.S. solar industry in 2010 and that number is expected to grow between 25-50,000 this year.

    The Obama Administration has taken solar energy initiatives to unprecedented levels and is leading the effort to win our clean energy future.”

    — The White House

  2. The auto industry a sore loser

    By Chandler Clay

    Carmakers simply aren’t getting it. 

    Rather than trying to innovate and improve the fuel efficiency of their fleets, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is fighting new efficiency standards with ads that will attempt to counter the strong case for cleaner cars: 

    Families would be hit with higher car prices. Small businesses dependent on vans, SUVs or pickups would face limited vehicle choice. And, even the government is predicting a drop in auto sales from what amounts to an electric vehicle mandate.

    Research groups say that the new fuel economy standards will create more than 500,000 jobs and save consumers $150 billion in gas prices. The real kicker? Three quarters of Americans already support the new standard.

    Clearly, this isn’t a battle between consumers and producers or efficiency versus affordability. This is a battle between old school and new. And new is kicking old’s butt.

    The Union of Concerned Scientists released a report that found a 6-percent increase in fuel efficiency through 2025 could cut oil imports by 1/3. The sustainability consultancy Ceres found that this 6-percent improvement could also create up to 700,000 jobs and save consumers over $150 billion by 2030. These are some powerful numbers. It’s no wonder the oil-heavy auto industry is pouty.

    The case that clean energy is too expensive is quickly losing effect. Across industries the efficient alternatives are becoming increasingly cost-competitive with their older, dirtier counterparts. Imagine if the powers of old and new school were combined what carmakers could be capable of.

    There’s a reason the saying goes, If you can’t beat them, join them.

  3. Solar Industry is Still Expected to Shine Brightly Through Criticism

    By Sarah Kiner

    The House of Representatives, mostly Republican-led, is determined to cut spending and possible future subsidies for solar power and clean energy by focusing attention to reduce or eliminate federal grant and loan guarantee programs.

    The solar industry is concerned about the possibility of losing grant or loans because programs like the U.S. Treasury grant program are expected to expire this year (this is the program that helped keep solar power alive through the recession). Also, the Energy Department loan guarantee program that is ending on October 1 has allotted $35 billion in loan guarantees for solar, wind, geothermal and other clean energy projects, producing more than 68,000 jobs.

    Even though clean energy has provided so many jobs, the anticipation for a national clean energy standard is fading in Congress because delegates are debating about what kind of energy sources America should use. This deliberation in Congress could stall the advancement of solar energy, but solar energy has become increasingly more prevalent, so the threat will not cause this form of energy to dwindle down.

    According to Solar Energy Industries Association, solar energy alone employs 100,000 Americans and last year alone, solar power has grown by 67% last year. This growth has proven to be faster than any other U.S. industry.

    Opponents to solar believe that the solar industry should be self-reliant in the energy market, without the help of taxpayers. Yet solar supporters consider it unfair to have solar be in the energy market without the aid of the government because for decades the federal government subsidized coal, oil, gas, and nuclear energy. The U.S. government has supported nuclear and clean-coal technology research, oil drilling tax incentives, and helped finance dams for hydropower. Now it is time for solar to get some help.

    Richard Caperton, an energy analysis with the center for American Progress, says:

    If we stop spending money on some very cost-effective programs for clean energy, all it’s going to do is put clean energy at an even bigger competitive disadvantage.

    It is true that solar and wind power are the most costly ways to generate electricity, yet solar’s cost is dropping as it becomes more efficient and as the industry expands. In fact, the average price to install a solar power system has fell by 20% nationwide from the beginning of 2010 to the end of the year.

    (Source: USA Today)