Bailout brings sunny days to solar industry

Economists, politicians and Joe Six-Packs alike continue to debate the effectiveness of the U.S. government’s $700 billion Wall Street bailout. Representatives from the solar industry, however, seem to agree that the bailout and its huge earmark for alternative energies will at least provide their industry a major boost in the United States.

"The subsidies for the solar industry in the bailout create great growth potential for solar in the U.S.,” Brian Lynch, public relations manager, Schott North America, Elmsford, N.Y., said during the Solar Power International expo, Oct. 13-16 in San Diego.

The bailout plan contains $17 billion in energy-related credits, according to an Oct. 8 article from the Miami Herald. “The tax credits for wind and solar were set to expire at the end of this year. The bailout package not only extended them, it enhanced the solar credit. Instead of a 30 percent credit with a cap of $2,000, the credit starting next year will cover 30 percent of however much a homeowner spends,” the Miami Herald’s John Dorschner wrote in the article.

While strong government subsidies have helped the industry flourish throughout Europe, solar power has been too cost-prohibitive for many building and homeowners in the United States. The solar tax credits in the bailout could lead to a solar boom in the U.S. market, says Dirk Vollbrecht, CFO of Ecostream US Inc., West Sacramento, Calif. “The U.S. market will become the largest in the world in the next three years. It’s just going to explode here,” he says.

Read Glass Magazine news coverage from the expo.

—By Katy Devlin, commercial glass and metals editor, retail glass co-editor, Glass Magazine

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