Solar panels have opened up a booming market for glass and glazing professionals. Most big names in the industry have entered the niche. Just in the recent past, Solutia, St. Louis, agreed to acquire Etimex Solar; the Dow Chemical Co. picked Midland, Mich., as the site for the first full-scale facility for its Dow Powerhouse Solar shingles; Cardinal Solar Technologies, part of Cardinal Glass Industries, Eden Prairie, Minn., opened a facility in Mazomanie, Wis., to grind, drill and temper two types of glass for use in PV; and Saint-Gobain, France, announced plans to boost its yearly sales related to solar power up to Eur 2 billion in five years and make acquisitions in the sector. First Solar, Tempe, Ariz., the market leader in commercial systems, is participating in the solar markets at a level of $1.9 billion; total market value for 2009 was $19.6 billion in 2009, according to a recent Research and Markets study.
Even non-core glazing players, such as Alcoa, Pittsburgh, and non-glazing companies, such as Chevron, San Ramon, Calif., are getting into the solar field. Alcoa has replaced the glass in parabolic troughs with reflective aluminum and integrated the mirror into a single structure. And Chevron has transformed an old refinery site in California into a test bed for seven advanced photovolatic technologies.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 has done its share to help the solar industry. Companies like Abound Solar Inc., Loveland, Colo., picked up $12.6 million in tax credits from the U.S. Department of Energy, via the ARRA, through a competitive selection process that examines how many green jobs a firm creates, the cost-effectiveness of its operations, the speed at which it implements manufacturing processes, and the overall benefit in terms of greenhouse gas reduction.
The Solar Manufacturing Jobs Creation Act, H.R. 4085 in the House and S. 2755 in the Senate, would help the solar industry even more by expanding the commercial solar investment tax credit to include the purchase of solar manufacturing equipment. The improved tax incentive for solar manufacturing will create long-term growth and jobs. Passage of this bill would create a generally available and immediately reliable 30 percent credit for the tools to create solar panels, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, Washington, D.C.
You can do your bit to help pass the act. Here's how:
--Call and write your senators and representatives. If they are a co-sponsor of the manufacturing tax credit, thank them for supporting the legislation and encourage quick passage of the solar manufacturing tax credit.
--If your senators and representatives are not a co-sponsor, call and/or write and request them to co-sponsor H.R. 4085 and S. 2755.
Help create new solar jobs, while improving your lot in this wildly expanding field.
—By Sahely Mukerji, Senior editor, Glass Magazine