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The Future of Nevada's Solar Industry
The Future of Nevada's Solar Industry

AIR DATE: October 3, 2011

A recent scandal is sending tremors through Nevada's solar industry.  A major solar company called Solyndra declared bankruptcy and fired all its workers, even after receiving a loan guarantee of $535 million from the government.  The Capitol is now scrutinizing all potential fund recipients.

The big Crescent Dunes project near Tonopah ended up passing inspection, but the question remains: what is the future of the solar industry in Nevada?  Even after we build the plants, can we compete with China's drastically lower prices?  And will these proposed solar projects (like the one in Laughlin) bring the jobs and growth that they're promising?


Steve Sisolak, Clark County Commissioner
Peter O'Dowd, reporter (KJZZ), Fronteras: The Changing Americas desk
Rose McKinney-James, principal, Energy Works Consulting & McKinney James & Associates; also formerly part of NV Renewable Energy & Energy Conservation Task Force

    comments powered by Disqus
    If Chinese capital is funding the S. Nevada solar collection plants then does that not mean much of the profits will be going to them? I don't see how this is win win for NV. Also, it is my understanding that Flextronics in N. Las Vegas just assembles or packages solar photovoltaic cells made elsewhere into panels. I would assume there are very few profitable semiconductor plants renaining in the US.
    aunty palinSep 30, 2011 11:00:03 AM
    The unlisted panelist said "it's expensive to ship those solar components across the ocean" Well, it certainly isn't free, but there are so many other things that are shipped across the ocean and sold here at significant profit. The cost of shipping for relatively high value/low weight/volume equipment is not significant given the much lower prices of these overseas producers. This means US producers have to offset higher local operating costs with the slim margin of long distance shipping. This is very tough.
    aunty palinSep 30, 2011 10:48:32 AM
    Does anyone have any stats on how many jobs per square foot (or mile or meter) will be created by solar energy collection jobs. If average wage numbers are known then perhaps one could compare the wage density solar against other industries. Sorry to say it but the resort/casino industry probably far outstrips that of solar. It pains me to say this.
    aunty palinSep 30, 2011 10:25:55 AM
    Well what other high tech manufacturing success stories are there in S. Nevada? Aren't we basically asking will the Flextronics plant (solar photovoltaic panel fab) in N. Las Vegas be able to compete and survive? The Ausra/Avena solar thermal equipment plant near Town Centre seems to be barely open. To me it looks like Nevada will just end up being a place where solar collection facilities will be operated with the equipment largely coming from elsewhere. The jobs will be decent paying but relatively low in numbers. Also, ironically, it is my understanding that the current generation of solar photovoltaic cells operate at reduced efficiency at typical Vegas Summer temperatures. So cooling has to be provided - thus reducing total operating efficiency. Doesn't this mean that the languishing solar thermal facility should actually be getting more business and attention? Poor Nevada, can't win for trying. Also, nothing personal about your panel but where are the technical people? We've got a politician/businessman, a journalist (Ivy League!) and an attorney. AP
    aunty palinSep 30, 2011 10:19:52 AM
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