So Long, Solar

by Paul Chesser, Heartland Institute Correspondent on March 27, 2010

in Blog

Oh, the glory days of almost a month ago, when advocates promoted the promise of solar energy in the United States. As one industry publication reported:

Of all the reasons that solar energy is capturing record levels of investment and spurring frenetic activity, its tremendous potential, laid out by Dan Cunningham of BP Solar (Frederick, MD), is the primary driver for the market. Participating in the Chemical Development & Marketing Assn.’s (CDMA) “Opportunities for Chemicals and Materials: Capitalizing on Wind and Solar” conference held last December at the University of Pennsylvania’s chemistry department, Cunningham addressed a crowd that included the biggest names in plastics supply—BASF, Bayer MaterialScience, Dow, and DuPont to name a few—all of which appreciate the extraordinary opportunity the burgeoning solar energy sector holds for plastics.

As impressive as the current boom is, Mike Eckhart, president of ACORE (American Council of Renewable Energy), forecasted an even brighter future for solar at the same CDMA event, particularly for the United States, which has only recently thrown the full weight of government subsidies and tax benefits behind the technology. “My prediction is in two years, solar will really take off,” Eckhart said. Admitting that the U.S. is the “laggard” in solar, Eckhart said he believes the country will catch up to the current market leader, Germany, which had 2000 MW of new solar capacity installed in 2009.

Fast-forward to a report in today’s Washington Post:

BP will close its solar-panel manufacturing plant in Frederick, the final step in moving its solar business out of the United States to facilities in China, India and other countries.

Just 3 1/2 years ago, in an announcement widely hailed by Maryland officials and promoters of “green jobs,” BP unveiled a $70 million plan to double output at the facility and erected a building to house the production lines.

But on Friday the company said it would lay off 320 workers and keep only a hundred people involved in research, sales and project development. BP said laid-off employees would receive full pay and benefits for three months, followed by severance packages and job-placement assistance. The company, unable to sell or lease the building, will tear it down.

“We remain absolutely committed to solar,” BP chief executive Tony Hayward said in an interview Friday. But he said BP was “moving to where we can manufacture cheaply.”

As usual, the charlatan promoters of unreliable, inefficient and costly energy projects once again show the success of their “green jobs” initiatives, driving employment to India and China.

Fredo March 28, 2010 at 5:44 am

Wait… you’re not arguing that solar is a bad idea, just that it should be produced in the United States? I think the “green jobs” advocates couldn’t agree more… so why aren’t you supporting them?

Instead, it sounds like you’re just cheerleading the fact that these jobs went to China because our government (thanks to lobbying from you all, no doubt) was too dumb or weak to keep them here.

Real patriotic, folks!

Harold Brewster April 13, 2010 at 8:02 am

Solar Energy is one of the best ways to get clean energy. Today the efficieny of solar power is a bit low but with advances in technology, solar cells will become more and more efficient in harnessing the energy of the sun.

klf April 16, 2010 at 8:15 am

i am doing a projecy for school and can i need more emial at

Jim Ison April 20, 2010 at 5:02 am

I've just found your webpage and am wondering… why? Can you offer information representing both 'sides' of the environmental argument, or are you just preaching to the choir? Personally I don't look for a 'side' regarding science. Researcher bias, yes… Einstein apparently said that scientists 'find what they are looking for'… but that's only human. Distortion, anger,ridicule… I don't appreciate that and in general get it from you guys, not from the scientists.

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