Unprecedented growth seen for solar
Feb 6, 2009 - McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
- The Blade, Toledo, Ohio
The head of the federal government's effort to promote
solar technology told about 200 industry leaders yesterday
that expanding the industry to the level needed by
2030 will require unprecedented levels of growth.
"To go from the 1 gigawatt of generation capacity
that we have now [in the United States] to the 170
to 200 gigawatts called for by 2030 amounts to a 26
percent compounded annual growth rate over the next
20 years," John Lushetsky explained. "That's a higher
sustained growth rate than any industry has ever been
asked to do before."
Mr. Lushetsky is program manager of the U.S. Department
of Energy's Solar Energy Technology Program for Energy
Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
He was the keynote speaker at a day-long conference
in the Dana Center at the University of Toledo's Health
Science Campus called "Empowering Solar Energy in
The conference drew industry participants from Ohio
Colleen LaChapelle, assistant director of the Wright
Center for Photovoltaics Innovation and Commercialization
at the University of Toledo, said what started as
a small conference grew over the last week in part
because of the tremendous opportunity for growth in
"The resources of our area match up very well to
what this industry needs," Ms. LaChapelle said.
Mr. Lushetsky predicted that the solar energy industry
-- including manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors
-- ultimately could employ 4 million people. But he
noted tremendous challenges are involved as the public
and private sectors work to incorporate solar energy
into a national electrical grid that's in need of
its own upgrade.
"We really can't wait for things to happen on their
own," Mr. Lushetsky said, explaining how public and
private efforts will have to cooperate to incorporate
solar into the nation's energy portfolio, including
provisions of the federal stimulus package making
its way through Congress.
He complimented the efforts done locally and across
Ohio to promote and encourage solar companies and
their development, citing First Solar Inc. and Xunlight
Corp., two solar-panel makers with plants in metro
"You've got a very good environment here for startups,"