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Can the U.S. help its solar power industry reach financial liftoff?

Post Time:Feb 03,2011Classify:Industry NewsView:48

On two very competitive fronts -- advanced solar power and advanced automotive batteries -- the Department of Energy has mounted a double-edged campaign. Through awards of loan guarantees, DOE is trying to shore up U.S. companies with today's technology at the same time that it targets R&D funds from the stimulus program toward "game changing" technology breakthroughs for the future. What is happening in the solar power industry offers one telling example.

First Solar, based in Tempe, Ariz., and SolarReserve, headquartered in Santa Monica, Calif., are two bright hopes engaged in the process of building a more competitive solar power industry, where the United States is a decided underdog.

Their technologies could hardly be more different. First Solar's solar cells -- the U.S. best seller -- produce electricity when sunlight strikes a thin film of cadmium telluride sandwiched between glass. SolarReserve uses solar energy reflected and focused by ground mirrors to heat molten salt to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The salt is stored in Thermos-like reservoirs and then is used to create steam to generate electricity hours after sundown, making it a leader in the budding field of renewable energy storage, industry analysts say.

They have this in common: Like the rest of the American solar industry, the growth of their U.S. operations is vitally dependent upon a fragile matrix of government support -- state renewable portfolio standards and federal tax credits, grants and construction loan guarantees.

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Source: http://www.glassmagazine.com/news-item/commercial/can-us-help-its-solar-power-industry-reach-financial-liftoff-117553Author:

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