Chu Touts Colorado Solar Industry at Arvada Firm
In Arvada today, the Obama Administration’s top energy official warned that China will continue to dominate the solar panel manufacturing market unless the US better supports the fledgling industry. Energy Secretary Steven Chu’s visit to Colorado came just one day after he received a grilling on Capitol Hill from House Republicans over the fallout from the Solyndra solar scandal.
Solyndra seemed to be about the last thing the Secretary wanted to talk about during a brief Q&A with reporters after touring a Prime Star/General Electric thin film solar plant.
He called the political fallout "unfortunate." But he spent the bulk of his time touting the potential of the solar industry, and the need for supporting it, he said, until it becomes cost-competitive with other traditional energy fuels.
"It’s our feeling that we should not wave the white flag, we should not say, oops, we may have invented it, but we’re going to be out-manufactured," Chu said. " We really can and should take back this technology lead."
The Secretary also bemoaned expected layoffs at the nearby National Renewable Energy Lab.
"All the revolutions we’ve led in the last half-century grew out of research in large part sponsored by federal dollars," Chu said. "Even though we’re in times of fiscal austerity we should remember that that’s what led to a lot of the prosperity in the US."
Chu was also in Colorado to meet with GE executives. The company recently announced plans to open a large solar manufacturing plant in Aurora and employ more than 300 people.
Chu said Colorado is still well-positioned to be a competitor in the global solar industry. The state now has the most solar power jobs per capita in the nation, according to an analysis by the Colorado Solar Energy Industry Association.