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Argument: Clean energy is one of nation's fastest growing industries

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"Clean energy is growth industry Washington should invest in: This census, as we discussed earlier on Scaling Green, had exciting information regarding the state of the solar industry in the United States. A few highlights included: There are more than 100,000 solar jobs in all 50 states. The U.S. solar industry has grown 10 times faster than the national economy as a whole over the last 12 months, in the middle of the worst economy since the Great Depression. Among the top 10 states experiencing solar job growth, California had the highest at 25,575. Colorado, Arizona, Pennsylvania, New York, Florida, Texas, Oregon, New Jersey and Massachusetts make up the remainder of the top 10. The diversity of job types within the industry includes installation, manufacturing and also areas such as sales and distribution, which are actually the fastest growing (companies like Sungevity (a client of Tigercomm’s and a TSF board member), SolarCity and SunRun that provide no-money down solar leases are great examples of those contributing to this kind of job growth). Over the next 12 months, almost 50% of solar firms expect to add jobs."

Eicke R. Weber. "Huge Growth Expected for North American Solar Industry." Renewable Energy World. May 20th, 2011: Washington, DC-- President Obama recently stated in his 2011 State of the Union Address: "Instead of subsidizing yesterday's energy, let's invest in tomorrow's." Shortly thereafter DOE secretary Chu launched the SunShot initiative, geared at research to drive down the costs of solar PV aggressively.

As Conference Committee Chair of Intersolar North America for the past three years, I witnessed the ebb and flow of policy, regulation, investments and its effect on the solar industry. The U.S. solar market has the potential to double once again in 2011, making it a contender for the world’s largest solar market by 2015. The 'perfect storm' of incentives, regulations and affordability, makes it well positioned for strong growth. According to Jay Holman, lead analyst for IDC Energy Insights' Renewable Energy Strategies program, "While subsidies undeniably underpin much of the solar PV industry's recent growth, the industry has been rapidly innovating in ways that make solar PV systems more cost effective, easier to install from both an economic and an installation labor perspective, and easier to maintain." Triggered by decreasing costs and the world’s quest for clean energy we are witnessing the start of a global solar tidal wave, with a 17 GW world market in 2010, and the US will be an important part of it.

Currently 24 states and the District of Columbia have enacted a policy for renewable energy portfolio standards (RPS). There are five states that hold unofficial renewable energy goals. In addition to state measures, in his State of the Union Address, President Obama proposed an aggressive federal clean energy standard (CES), requiring 80 percent of the nation’s electricity to come from qualifying clean energy technologies by 2035. The drive for clean energy and solar power has never been as strong as it is presently in the United States. According to IDC, a total of over 2 GW of new solar PV installations will come online in North America in 2011. With a boost from larger projects expected to come online in the 2013-2015 timeframe, IHS iSuppli estimates the US market growing to over 5 GW by 2015."

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