Arizona Must Invest More in Solar Energy to Stay Ahead of Other States and China, Says GPEC President Barry Broome

Categories: Solar Energy

broome barry gpec.jpg
Image: GPEC
Barry Broome, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, said today that his organization is doing a better job promoting the solar industry than the solar industry itself.
​More subsidies for the solar industry in Arizona are crucial to avoid being left behind by other states and China, a Phoenix business leader said today at a solar-power conference.

Tax incentives and loan guarantees "make a lot of sense" right now in Arizona, which is already a leader in the industry, said Barry Broome, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council at the Solarpraxis convention.

Despite the high-profile financial failure of the Solyndra solar plant this year in California, Broome told a packed conference room that solar power is destined to be a major force in Arizona and elsewhere. The only question, as he sees it, is whether sunny-skied Arizona will take full advantage.

solarpraxis logo.jpg
Solarpraxis, a Germany company, is hosting the two-day conference on photovoltaic solar power.

About 200 representatives of solar companies from around the United States and Europe, particularly solar-heavy Germany, listened to Broome's speech at the downtown Phoenix Sheraton hotel.

Behind Broome on an overhead screen, a chart showed that Texas, Oregon, Nevada and other states provide more "aggressive economic development tools," (a.k.a. public money), for solar power than Arizona, and the state can't compete without doing the same thing.

In meeting with Arizona Senators Jon Kyl and John McCain as part of his lobbying efforts, he said he emphasized the massive growth charted for the industry.

"The fact that it saves the environment and you don't believe that -- don't worry about that," he says, adding that he typicallly won't mention global warming in his industry pitch because "I don't know, and I don't care."

The growth of solar is inevitable, especially in the Valley, he insisted. Eventually, the power plants using coal and other fossil fuels will need to be replaced. The rest of the world won't stand by idly if it's replaced with more coal plants, he said, and nuclear plants, meanwhile, are seen as too dangerous. That leaves a lot of room for solar to grow.

While solar will be only one of the industries that the United States and China will be "fighting" over for dominance, China -- a leading maker of photovoltaic solar panels -- will be an important ally for Arizona solar power in the next few years, Broome said. It already has been important: For instance, Arizona State University, said to be the most solarized big university in the country, partnered with China's Suntech company.

Broome noted that 12 Chinese solar companies are considering opening up in Arizona within the next two years, he said.

To help move the industry's message, Broome said, solar advocates must stop infighting over their competing technologies and present a unified and positive position.

"You have to sell the technology as universally good," he said. "GPEC's doing a better job for your industry than your industry."

Broome met with New Times and several other reporters after his speech, where he continued his pitch.

California, with its much larger, power-hungry population, will continue to provide the biggest demand for Arizona's solar-power plants. Using the desert along the California border, Arizona solar providers could be as important to the country as the Alaskan pipeline.

Arizona solar investments currently use one-third of all the federal loan guarantees for the industry and should capitalize on those investments by building even more, he said. The longer the state waits and listens to "adversaries," the more chance it will give up business to California.

Besides the large-scale plants, Arizona could see 100,000 to 200,000 residential rooftops with solar panels within 10 years, he said.

When the homebuilders get busy again -- no telling when that will be, but Broome predicted it would start happening in a couple of years -- they will likely offer new-home buyers a solar option that would be figured into the mortgage payments.

Solar is still more expensive than traditional power-generation methods, but that's expected to change in coming years, both due to fossil-fuel power getting more expensive and solar technology becoming cheaper.


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40 comments
americanenergy75
americanenergy75

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solar water heater

Solar Water Heater System is gaining popularity due to its reduced costs and free solar availability of solar energy. They are totally safe for humans as well as environment. They can be used in any climate and the fuel they use is free. So it would be a cost-effective way to generate hot water for your home.

David Bergeron
David Bergeron

So the next time you hear someone say, this or that solar company employed 100 people, it is more accurate to see it as 100 productive workers are now unproductive and we will all have less goods and services to go around.

But it is easy to be fooled by the jobs myth. When the solar jobs are created, the number of jobs are easy to see and report in a news article. But when spending drops in the balance of the economy, the job losses are diffuse and difficult to count. You will see shirts with solar company logos, but no one laid-off in the restaurant business will wear a shirt that says “I lost my job do to solar subsidies.” But they did just the same.

David Bergeron
David Bergeron

Some solar advocates talk about solar energy projects in terms of how many jobs are created. They say subsidies for solar create jobs. But what is not visible to the untrained eye is that subsidies also destroy jobs, and in sum, they are a net loss for the economy.

Who do you think pays for these subsidies? The answer is taxpayers and ratepayers pay for the subsidies given to the solar industry.

So what happens to these tax and ratepayers as they are forced to pay more in taxes and electric bills? Of course, they can now spend less in other segments of the economy. There is no free lunch. Their reduced spending will directly cause economic losses and job losses in the balance of the economy.

So on net, the solar subsidies just shift jobs from one activity to another. But we are worse off. The new solar jobs don’t have much economic value. If they did the market would have already employed people to install solar electric systems. But the jobs that were lost were more productive, since they were created by real demand. So on net, we shifted people from more productive activities to less. This causes lower overall economic output and lower aggregate wages.

REepedia
REepedia

Renewable Energy – Buy American or Take Advantage of Economic Opportunities - http://goo.gl/fdl3H.

Much has been made of late in the renewable energy sector towards buying products ‘Made in America’. The problem is however, American manufactured renewable energy products are just too costly. China’s on the other hand are not, and regardless of their economic and currency business methods the real question is: Do Americans really want renewable energy ie; solar and wind, etc., or not? The lack of American manufacturing has plenty of blame to go around. And currently from a business sense only, it simply makes sense to outsource the work. Therefore, it’s probably the case that certain manufacturing type jobs are gone forever. So then, where are American solar and wind contractors to get their material to grow the market here i...n the U.S.

I think it’s time we face the fact that China is the real deal. No matter how much greater we may think we are in comparison, the truth is they have reigned supreme in the renewable energy marketplace. We can try and fight it all we want but, when given the choice to buy solar panels from American manufacturers generally upwards of $1.50 cpw or from China with prices around $1.10 this should be a ‘no brainer’. The trick is finding Chinese manufacturers that provide quality products meeting American standards. This can require a lot of research or, you could find a broker that deals strictly with this type of research and transaction. For example, Alibaba.com offers such a service general except, you must do all the work (research) and assume the responsibility and all the liability that comes with it. However on the other hand, http://reepedia.com Products division does all of this for you. Contractors can simply state what they need, review the information returned, place an order, and receive the highest quality panels meeting all required certifications for their job. If contractors were able to purchase panels at a minimum 25% discount to American or elsewhere manufacturers, this savings would effectively be passed along to individual consumers, thus making it more affordable. While this purchasing strategy would no doubt hurt the American solar manufacturers, it would also spur the much needed growth in the industry. In turn, energy costs would decrease, thus keeping more money into businesses and households for additional consumption spending, which is something the U.S. economy desperately needs. For solar and wind to succeed and ultimately excel, Americans need to come to the realization that when it comes to solar, the U.S. made a conscious decision back in the late seventies and early eighties to give our solar technology info over to the Chinese. We can’t really expect for China to give it back to us either, since undoubtedly we can’t compete with their manufacturing costs (however they do it…?) and therefore, assisted them the ability to create a major piece to their economic engine. All one needs to do is to take a look at the amount of U.S. solar technology manufacturer bankruptcies over the past few years while however, a continuous expansion and already massive growth of Solar installations around the world is occurring. Americans should decide to ‘get off the fence’ (ouch – it usually hurts when sitting on spikes…) and either go as the rest of the industrializing world or not; Renewable Energy or Not?….

Georgeboston
Georgeboston

Solar cells are extremely efficient and sustainable. Too bad the companies charge so much for implementing a solar power system. I made a solar system my self and reduced the cost of my electricity bill to 75% in summer and up to 50% in winter. The cost for constructing the system was much lower than the actuall ammount that companies demand. The money back was 2 years. The problem is finding proper and well researched instructions on how to build one, and it took me some time finding them. If you need help about that you should check http://twurl.nl/hvml4z

Yourproductsucks
Yourproductsucks

Why would anyone invest in a product that can't be sustained even after receiving bloated government subsidies?

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Walter Concrete
Walter Concrete

Solar can't generate enough power on demand for large communities.   They have to store it in batteries to get large amounts of electricity.    They can't compete against a generating station like the one at four corners.   Solar also can't compensate for a shortage of power in peak times during the summer.   You can't increase the supply from a bank of solar panels like you can from a generating station and push that electricity for miles on a 500 kv distribution system.  It just doesn't work.   The idea that man made pollution causes global warming has been debunked and no I'm not going to supply you with references.  Look it up yourself and use more than a tv show or government sponored internet site for the information.  Cap and trade is just another way to take your money and drive business into the ground.   The U.S. empire is on it's last legs and doesn't need to subsidize solar or windmill technology.   Solar has been sitting on it's ass for years without developing it to be capable of generating more power than a household needs.

Coyote
Coyote

What is this, a football game?  This strikes me as turn-of-the-century small town boosterism updated to the 21st century, with a dollop of tribal rivalry thrown in. He's talking mainly about manufacturing of solar components.  I am left with a couple of questions

+  Why should the fact that Arizona has sunny skies have any bearing on whether or not it is an appropriate spot to manufacture solar panels.   Should Seattle subsidize umbrella manufacture because it is rainy there?   My sense is that transportation costs are a small part of the price to end users.  Arizona clearly will be a great spot for solar panels to be installed -- why does that mean we need to manufacture them?+  If other states like Oregon or China are subsidizing solar products that we might buy, shouldn't we celebrate that?  Thanks, taxpayers of Oregon, for forking over your tax money so we can buy solar panels cheaper in Arizona.  Why in the hell should be try to out-do them at this?  Now we can go invest our capital in a business that actually makes money.+  I am not a fan of government-led economic/industrial policy, but if I were, why in the hell would I want to direct my state's capital and manpower towards a business that requires subsidies, ie can't make a profit  on its own in the marketplace?

This seems exactly wrong:  "To help move the industry's message, Broome said, solar advocates must stop infighting over their competing technologies and present a unified and positive position."Normally, I think an economist would argue that in an immature (both market-wise and technologically) product, competition and creative destruction between various competitors is critical to ultimate success.   Who knows which solar technology will be best in 10 years.  We will probably be wrong if we pick today.  So in fact this advice is totally senseless, unless you see the industry as a taxpayer-money-magnet rather than a real business, and then it makes perfect sense.  Politics, after all, demands simple sound bytes and a unified front.

PS-  There seem to be many folks here who believe that if it is bad, the government must ban it, and if it is good, the government must subsidize and mandate it.  I make no judgement on solar, other than that  it is currently not economic for most applications (My company uses it all the time in areas off the grid, though).  I am thrilled if you want to cover every inch of your property with panels.  Just don't demand my money to do it.

ExpertShot
ExpertShot

Ray writes: "Solar is still more expensive than traditional power-generation methods, but that's expected to change in coming years, both due to fossil-fuel power getting more expensive and solar technology becoming cheaper."  Where did you pull that out?  Your ass!!?  That's the standard line the fossil fuels industry has been laying on the people of this country for over 20 years and it's false.  Renewable Energy made from Sun powered sources (includes Wind!) has been on par with fossil fuel generated power for some time know.   If you would bother to confirm this information rather than just parroting the industry line, I, and the vast majority of your readers, would be thankful.http://www.seia.org/galleries/...Depending on which categories and how you compare the two, solar wins out over fossil fuels many times.  I'm here to tell you - Solar is NOT more expensive than traditional power-generation methods.  You are absolutely fucking wrong!  If you compare one category or mode of generation in a way favorable to fossil fuels, yeah - you can make that claim.  However, you don't factor in the cost to the taxpayers for cleaning up fossil fuels waste and damage to the environment.  Factor the cost of losing a large chunk of our coastline due to global warming and then tell me how much cheaper fossil fuels are Ray.  What a DOUCHE!

PTCGAZ
PTCGAZ

AZ should take advantage of it's sun shine. Yuma is one of America's Sunniest cities, with Phx, and many other cities in AZ not that far behind. I would put up solar panels if I could afford them, I can't at this time.

ExpertShot
ExpertShot

"Just don't demand my money" Like the nuclear, oil and coal companies have been doing for such a long time. You must have just forgot about that cause you're so comfortable with their hand up your ass.

JD Tuttle
JD Tuttle

ExpertShort,

You gave a link to a marketing style presentation. That doesn't provide me with squat to evaluate your assertion:

(you wrote): "Renewable Energy made from Sun powered sources (includes Wind!) has been on par with fossil fuel generated power for some time know [sic]".

When I see the data justifying "on par" and "for some time know [sic]" I'll consider your point. Also, how in the heck does SOLAR include WIND? I see a connection that differential heating of the earth creates wind, but isn't including wind sources in a SOLAR cost effecitveness report sort of misleading? Wouldn't it be more accurate to just state it as renewable?

Additionally, which categories do you compare  here?

(you wrote): "Depending on which categories and how you compare the two, solar wins out over fossil fuels many times"

For solar power to be considered as a replacement to fossil fuels for power grid generation, it needs:

1) To be scalable to support the large scale demand DYNAMIC demand2) Reliable in all conditions (including cloudy/rainy days, or if we are including wind -  windless days)

BTW, that data should be from a research group that doesn't have a dog in the fight (meaning, research from somebody other than the SEIA or funded by SEIA or related trade associations).

I'm willing to listen to your argument when you provide the data you criticize the reporter for not consulting.

Ray Stern
Ray Stern

You know, maybe if you got of your pajamas and come to the conference, you'd have gotten your facts straight.

ExpertShot
ExpertShot

You don't need solar photovoltaics to utilize solar power.  You can make a solar oven for less than $15.00 and even less using recycled materials.  The cost of the power to cook your food is far less than using electricity or gas - IT IS FREE!  You can replace your cost to dry clothes by building a simple clothes line.  The cost to dry your clothes is far less than that powered by gas or electric - - IT IS FREE! You can build or have built for you a simple solar air heating system to add to your home.  The cost to heat your home with solar is far less than that powered by gas or electric - IT IS FREE! You can build or have built for you a simple solar water heating system to add to your home.  The cost to heat your home's water with solar is far less than that powered by gas or electric - IT IS FREE! You can wash your own dishes rather than put them in the dishwasher.  The cost to wash your dishes by hand is far less than that powered by gas or electric - IT IS FREE!

From this perspective, you can't afford NOT to convert to these energy saving SOLAR energy practices.

There are companies who will install and own the solar system on your home and you pay a small monthly amount (smaller than your electric bill) to "rent" the system.  www.solarcookers.org

ExpertShot
ExpertShot

Wind on this planet is generated by the action of the solar rays which fall upon it.  Thus, wind is in effect, solar power.  For nit-pickers who oppose renewable energy funding in all its form, I could care less if you don't want to use the concept that the sun's energy is what causes wind on this planet.  In fact, it's hard to understand your interest in this subject at all except to assume that you are against any renewable energy funding by the U.S. Government and only support taxpayer support for fossil and nuclear fueled energy generation.

You are not reading the links I've posted - if you had, you would understand my statement that solar had been on par with fossil fuels and nuclear.  Of course, you took the statement out of context and nit-picked again.  In peak power generation situations, renewables are more efficient.  There are also other situations where renewable energy is more efficient or on par.  I gave three examples - solar water and air heating, drying clothes and cooking. 

You wrote: For solar power to be considered as a replacement to fossil fuels for power grid generation, it needs: [blah blah blah]

We're not talking about "replacement"  you are.  I don't want to talk about that because it's silly.  No one is claiming that renewable energy will REPLACE fossil fuels entirely.  The fact that you bring it up means to me that you're an fossil fuels industry plant who is a troll on this blog.  Go away.

Read the Wiki cite and it's related research and external links and stop bothering me.

ExpertShot
ExpertShot

I've been promoting solar since before you were out of your diapers sonny.  For 20 years I produced the Earth Day events in this part of Arizona.  Got lots of free ads from New Times too.  If you're going to say I got my facts wrong please point these out specifically.  BTW - I work in a legal office, volunteer with veterans, plan events, and don't have time to go to conferences where they're saying stuff I already know (I'm on 3 solar and clean tech discussion groups).

ExpertShot
ExpertShot

Journalist Stern. 

Who, What, Where Why? 

You obviously don't have time to respond so, take your time - it's a blog for christ's sake.  You can answer tomorrow, when you have more time to actually engage in a discussion rather than just insulting me (not that I mind the insults, it's just that I'd like to have a little meat with my potatoes).

Ray Stern
Ray Stern

That's a hilarious screed, Shotty. You should audition for the Improv.

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