There could have been a drinking game for the opening night of the Solar Power International convention: Take a shot when you hear “credit crunch” or “tax credits.” The current financial turmoil and the renewal of the tax credits for solar permeated both media events — California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s speech and solar maker Sharp’s press conference — and could be heard throughout private conversation at the reception. The themes will likely linger all week.
Schwarzengger said he was very happy that Congress finally got its act together and renewed the tax credits. He also emphasized his confidence that “solar is everywhere. It is the future,” despite the recent economic situation. Like Schwarzenegger’s recent speech at the Applied Materials solar parking lot, the governor highlighted the green job boom in the state and California’s leading share of cleantech investments.
At Sharp’s press conference, Ron Kenedi, VP of Sharp’s solar energy solutions group, admitted that “credit is tight,” but despite that the company announced that it will be selling its next-gen thin-film solar in the U.S. “in the near future.” Sharp’s commitment to thin-film solar production is very aggressive — the company plans to increase production to 6 gigawatts of capacity over the next few years and this month will start volume production of its next-gen thin-film solar at its Katsuragi Plant, bringing Sharp’s current production capacity to 160 megawatts per year.