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