“Texas has what it takes to be a national leader in solar power. We have the most solar radiation in the country, are home to one of the world’s largest supplier of solar-grade silicon, and are innovators in the high-tech industry,” said McCall Johnson the Clean Energy Advocate for Environment Texas and the author of the report.
A report produced by the Renewable Energy Policy Project, estimated that if the US had a 25% Renewable Energy Standard by 2025, over 23,000 manufacturing jobs could be created in Texas for photovoltaic technologies alone.
"For Texas to retain its status as the energy capital of the world, we must utilize the sun as an energy source. By being a leader in solar power and tapping into our tremendous resources, we can create jobs and keep money in the Texas economy," said Texas State Representative Mark Strama.
The report also shows that Texas has the potential to create a completely self sufficient solar manufacturing chain. If the state’s solar market was to expand, so too would the likelihood that fully completed solar panels could be produced in Texas, without the need to outsource manufacturing.
“From glass manufacturing in Wichita Falls to Steel Fabrication in Brownwood, Texans are contributing to the solar industry. A robust solar market in Texas will allow us to retain and create jobs that otherwise may move or be established in other states or overseas to countries like China,” said Johnson.
The report finds that Texas businesses are positioned to provide the world with many of the components of solar energy systems, bringing investment dollars and high-paying jobs to the state.
Companies profiled in Lone Star Power that are currently contributing to the solar supply chain include:
* PPG Industries: a glass manufacturer with a facility producing glass in Wichita Falls for solar modules
* USA Wire and Cable: an Austin based wire and cable distributor serves the solar industry
* MEMC Pasadena : one of the world’s largest producers of polysilicon, used to create crystalline photovoltaic modules
* ExelTech: engineers and manufactures inverters that convert electricity produced by solar to electricity that can be used in a general wall outlet in Fort Worth
* Barr Fabrication: a Brownwood company that provided the steel structural support for Solar One Nevada, the largest concentrating solar plant in the world
The coalition reports that 2010 will be a big year for the solar energy industry. 18% of new US and Canadian energy projects in 2010 are expected to be solar power projects with over $30.2 billion in total investment value, surpassing both coal and natural gas.
State-provided incentives could push Texas forward in the solar movement. These changes in state policy would aim to help Texans put solar panels on their homes, expand existing businesses, and attract outside companies to build large-scale solar farms in the state.
“A statewide solar program in Texas will help drive the cost of solar down through economies of scale, providing consumers with affordable clean energy, and Texas businesses with growth opportunities,” said Hugh Robertson, Vice President of USA Wire and Cable.
The Go Solar Texas Coalition is calling on Governor Perry to set a goal of developing 1000 megawatts of solar by 2015 and 5000 megawatts by 2025. The Public Utility Commission is currently considering a rule to require electric companies to obtain 500 megawatts of electricity (the size of a coal-fired power plant) from solar energy and other emerging renewable technologies by the year 2015. Implementing this rule with a 100 megawatt program to encourage distributed generation is a great first step towards reaching the 5000-megawatt goal by 2025.
The Go Solar Texas coalition also urges Texas leadership to require retail electric providers to offer fair buyback rates for energy produced by solar and expand our energy efficiency goals with specific incentives for programs that promote onsite solar.
“Texas businesses are already contributing to the solar supply chain, but we need to have equally forward-thinking public policy for Texas to become a leader in solar power,” concluded Johnson.
Texas has what it takes to be a national leader in solar power. We have the most solar radiation in the country, are home to one of the world’s largest suppliers of solar-grade silicon and wafers, and are innovators in the high tech industry. From a glass company in Wichita Falls, to steel brace fabrication in Brownwood, Texas-based companies span the solar supply chain.
With the solar industry quickly becoming a multi-billion-dollar venture, Texas businesses are positioned to provide the world with many of the components of solar energy systems, bringing investment dollars and high-paying jobs to the state. This white paper provides an overview of the solar supply chain, and highlights the businesses across Texas who stand to make considerable contributions to economic development and job creation in this state if we establish a robust solar market. We profile some of the companies who are either already busy producing solar components here in Texas or who could easily re-tool existing facilities to do so.
• PPG Industries is a glass manufacturer with a facility in Wichita Falls that produces glass for solar modules.
• Applied Materials, which has an Austin location, creates machinery for manufacturing solar panels.
• USA Wire and Cable is an Austin-based wire and cable distributor serving the solar industry
• MEMC’s facility in Pasadena is one of the world’s largest producers of polysilicon, used to create crystalline photovoltaic modules.
• ExelTech, based in Ft. Worth for over 20 years, engineers and manufactures inverters that convert electricity produced by solar power into electricity that can be used in a standard wall outlet.
• Entech Solar, also in Fort Worth, designs and manufactures proprietary solar modules.
• Barr Fabrication, in Brownwood, provided the structural support for Nevada Solar One –– the largest concentrating solar plant in the world.
• Tessera Solar, headquartered in Houston, develops, owns and operates large–scale solar plants, including the Western Ranch Solar Project in West Texas under development now.
Despite our considerable presence in the solar component field, it is far from assured that Texas businesses will reap the greatest possbile benefits from exponential growth in the solar industry.
Incentives provided by other states and countries are attracting major manufacturers away from Texas, leaving many of our businesses high and dry.
In order to capitalize on this incredible opportunity, Texas policymakers should:
• Include solar-specific requirements in an increase of Texas’ existing and highly successful Renewable Portfolio Standard.
• Establish goals and create incentives for building-integrated solar at the time of construction as part of the PUC’s advanced buildings incentive program. This can be accomplished by creating a rebate program. A declining rebate should be planned over a 10-year period to give the industry confidence to invest in production, research and development. At a minimum, new buildings should be “solar-ready.”
• Adopt Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) districts in Texas cities to provide loans to Texans to install solar panels, which are paid back through property taxes.
• Allow third-party ownership of PV systems.
• Make solar systems and installations exempt from state and local sales tax.
• Create fair buyback rates for electricity produced by solar power.
• Improve contract and interconnection standards and consumer protections for owners of solar systems, while banning homeowners’ associations from denying homeowners the right to install PV panels.
• Provide for the construction of solar ties to new Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) transmission lines in West Texas.
• Promote new ways to store the excess energy produced by the sun for later use, such as thermal storage technologies, flywheels and compressed air energy storage.
• Increase funding of research and development. Create a R&D technology center similar to the micro-computer consortium that was so successful in developing the microchip industry in Texas.
By providing incentives to help Texans put solar panels on the roofs of their homes and businesses, and by attracting companies to build large-scale solar farms, we can clean the air, create good manufacturing jobs in the solar industry and become a national leader in solar power. Thus, changes in state policy could actually help existing businesses expand while providing a likelihood that new manufacturing and power plant development companies would locate in Texas and create good, green jobs.