Multinationals expanding into solar include BP, with 2,200 solar employees, and The Sharp Manufacturing Company of America in Memphis, Tenn., which employs 300 workers producing solar modules.
SCHOTT Solar, part of the German SCHOTT Group, established its Albuquerque, N.M., solar manufacturing plant in 2009 with an investment of over $1 million. It has 300 employees.
“If the market develops the way we hope it does, the facility will quadruple in size,” said James Stein, vice president for government affairs at SCHOTT Solar North America.
It will soon have even more competition: China’s largest solar panel manufacturer, Suntech Power, just plans to open its first American plant near Phoenix in 2010, hiring 75 people initially with plans to expand to 200.
Biofuels and Biomaterials
The top five states with potential for biomass manufacturing, according to the Blue Green Alliance study, are Texas, New York, California, Ohio and Oklahoma.
In Ohio, FirstEnergy initially planned to shut down the R.E. Burger Power Plant in Akron rather than spend $380 million to bring it into compliance with new air quality regulations. Instead, the company invested $200 million to convert the plant to burn biomass. The repurposed plant will come on-line in 2013, employing its original 105 workers and creating 200 new jobs.
Technology Review’s latest list includes three biofuel companies: , which will open the first U.S. commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant in Georgia next year; , which is building a pilot plant in Chicopee, Mass.; and , which will soon open a plant in Kinross, Mich.
Conservation and Efficiency
The recovery act’s $5 billion investment in the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) is projected to create over in manufacturing, distribution and installation of insulation. (Building retrofits create eight times as many jobs per million dollars invested as coal production.)
In Ohio, where a $266.8 million grant from the Department of Energy’s Weatherization Program is retrofitting 32,000 homes, it’s estimated that the program will have created 590 new jobs and retained 487 by March 2012.
Serious Materials in Sunnyvale, Calif., which produces super-insulating windows, purchased two shuttered factories to meet demand for Illinois’ Weatherization Assistance Program.
“We’re small, but ... the opportunity now for things like low-income housing weatherization, is staggering. We will grow four times from last year to this year,” said Chuck Wetmore, who headed one of the factories, Kensington Windows in Vandergrift, Pa., and will now run the Serious Materials operation.
In addition, the green building industry will likely create or support 7.9 million jobs over the next four years, according to a by the U.S. Green Building Council and Booz Allen Hamilton.
The energy consulting firm KEMA that smart grid development could create 280,000 U.S. jobs by 2012. Those jobs will involve grid monitoring, renewable energy integration, smart meter networking, consumer energy management and, most importantly, digital data management.
Clean Edge found that many high-level information technology executives are already making the move to smart grid companies.
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