Environment Forum

Green jobs really on the way? New U.S. solar plants announced this week

December 18, 2008

Are those green jobs Obama has been promising already on their way? Really?

Despite a weak global economy and all the gloom that has brought to the solar industry of late, two solar companies this week quietly bucked the trend by announcing new manufacturing plants here in the United States.

On Monday, Hemlock Semiconductor said it would invest up to $3 billion to expand U.S. production of polysilicon, the key raw material used to make solar cells and semiconductors.  That will include $1.2 billion to build a new facility in Clarksville, Tennesee, and up to $1 billion to expand its current operations in Hemlock, Michigan. The company said the investment will create 800 permanent positions at the plants (and a few hundred more once Clarksville is expanded) and 1,800 construction jobs.

A day later, Signet Solar said it will build a solar panel manufacturing plant in Belen, New Mexico. The first phase of the plant will create 200 jobs, though ultimately it will employ about 600 people, the Menlo Park, California-based company said.

These announcements stand in stark contrast to the slew of dour news that has emanated from the industry in recent weeks.  Just yesterday, Hemlock rival MEMC became the latest solar player to cut its sales forecast for the current quarter.

Hemlock acknowledged the dismal state of the economy in its statement, saying “the exact scale of this investment will be determined by market conditions.”

It’s too soon, of course, to know how those “conditions” will play out, and things look pretty grim at the moment. But with Barack Obama’s inauguration around the corner, there is palpable optimism that more alternative energy companies will be setting up shop here.

How do you think this will play out? Are “green jobs” for real?

Photo: REUTERS

Comments
5 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

Nichola, I liked your article and also agree to what you say… if we intensively research on the topic of Green Jobs then we will find the positive statistics of Green Jobs, the data cannot be incorrect for so many years… Green Jobs are “By the society, For the society”… its an give and take relation between us and society and environment… if you would like to discuss and learn more on the topics of Green Jobs, Corporate Social Responsibility, Development, Energy and the Environment, Ethical Consumption, Politics and Governance, Social Investment, Social Media and Sustainable Business, then please do visit JustMeans site… Recently I have come across this site; it is the only one of such site which brings all companies and individuals together on one platform to discuss on the above topics. JustMeans is very well designed, informative, refreshing and the most important easy to use, the best usability. Many of us interested in this sector do exchange our thoughts here and also I would like you to see on JustMeans very soon.

Posted by Sandy Chan | Report as abusive
 

We’re not close to “being green” in regards to energy consumption, but the economical impact from investing and developing emerging technologies will be substantial in the next several decades.

 

Free market impetus isn’t enough. Our government should direct substantial resources to create demand and expand solar production as well as for other green technologies. The current economic crisis is stifling a good chunk of private investment interest. It is rather unlikely private investment will sustain a robust shift to green energy solutions at this juncture.

Posted by Anubis | Report as abusive
 

Obama’s recovery plan provides the U.S. with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to shape the country’s infrastructure and our government must learn from the mistakes of the past and not sacrifice standards of sustainability in order to speed these projects to market.

Check out more on thoughts on Obama’s plans from the American Institute of Architects on our YouTube channel here – http://www.youtube.com/user/AIANational

 

Yes, I think this will create green jobs and this is a major part in my opinion to a real sustainable recovery in America. We need to build products that we need at home and can export to bring our trade imbalance down. Also building infrastructure is a great way to increase the productivity of our country and create higher wage jobs that will give these people more income to spend into the economy. It is not realistic to think that we can outsource most of our manufacturing and be a real world economic power. Consumption is not the end all. .02

 

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