Solar Power Industry Consolidation Has Upsides
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
GE and First Solar announced last week an important step towards consolidation of the solar industry that will result in the loss of a new solar manufacturing facility in Colorado and, potentially 350 jobs. Clearly the announcement is frustrating for Colorado, a state we featured in EDF’s Clean Energy Economic Development Series, which highlights key road maps for maximizing economic development from clean energy markets.
But, the announcement includes lots of good news – which is probably more significant for the U.S.’s long-term solar power play as well as overall economic opportunity and job creation. In 2009, GE purchased PrimeStar Solar, a company first seeded at the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Labs (NREL), located in Colorado. PrimeStar Solar (renamed Arvada research center) made significant advances in the efficiency of cadmium-telluride (CdTe) thin film solar panels. This lowered the cost of thin film solar panels overall and made them more competitive with traditional solar panels.