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USGNN Original StoryWill Recovery Plans Give the U.S. Solar Glazing Market a Positive Boost?

The recently enacted American Recovery and Reinvestment Act could mean good news for the future of solar glazing. In his address to Congress earlier this week President Obama stated, "Thanks to our recovery plan, we will double this nation's supply of renewable energy in the next three years. We have also made the largest investment in basic research funding in American history--an investment that will spur … new discoveries in energy ..."

The Act also calls for investing $15 billion dollars a year to develop technologies for a number of areas, including solar power. In addition, the plan sets out to save or create 3.5 million jobs over the next two years, including jobs construcing solar panels.

"The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act signed by the president had a number of benefits for the renewable energy industry," says Mike Ondrus, director - Solar Energy Systems with Glasstech Inc. "Not the least of which is the monetization of the investment tax credit in the form of grants. This may now make it more appealing and easier for the U.S. solar industry to move ahead with installations that use glass."

Some of the plans key points that may have a significant impact on the solar glazing market include:

  • Renewable Energy Grant Program, which offers Department of Energy grants equal to 30 percent of the cost of solar projects started in the next two years, including large-scale utility projects;
  • · Loan Guarantee Program, which creates a new, streamlined loan guarantee program to support financing of renewable energy systems, including solar energy technology;
  • · Manufacturing Investment Credit, which creates a 30-percent investment tax credit for facilities engaged in the manufacture of renewable energy property or equipment;
  • · Solar for Federal buildings and military, which creates a multi-billion dollar market for solar to be installed to power Federal buildings and military installations.

However, it will still take time for solar glazing to fully engage the mainstream market. And some companies say they are still accessing what the Act's full impact will be.

"Initial indications are that it will provide direct benefit to the solar industry, and companies, such as ours, that will further reduce costs and minimizes the impact of the economic crisis on the solar industry (for financing projects)," says Brian Lynch, who works in corporate communications for SCHOTT North America, which includes SCHOTT Solar. Lynch adds that the plan could also help improve the economy overall, as it may encourage companies to expand their solar presence.

"We're [SCHOTT Solar] in the process of investing $100 million in Albuquerque to build a production facility that will employ 350 people. If market demand remains strong, the long-term plans call for the facility to quadruple in size, with a total investment approaching $500 million and total employment at approximately 1500."

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