Following up on my article on Sharp Corp. and it's solar power focus, I was reading a few articles in the NY Times about solar power. The recession has taken quite a toll on solar companies, which were growing very rapidly over the past few years - according to this article on the Green Inc. NY Times blog, Cleantech investments jumped from $270 million to over $4 billion from 2003 to 2008.
A lot of it is due to the credit freeze, which is drying up the necessary capital that wind and solar power companies relied on in the past to keep going. While Obama's plans for a green America are in the works, and while he's dedicated $83 billion in tax credits and cleantech spending in his stimulus bill, the effects of those actions won't be felt until much later. At present, these companies are starting to cut back and layoff workers in order to stay afloat.
Some solar companies like Ausra, had big plans like creating thousands of solar power plants that would supply the United States with clean power, but now they're turning more towards steam generation to supply existing power plants and industries with steam.
Luckily, there is still some progress being made. I was reading this article about how another solar company called FirstSolar made a breakthrough in their development process of its solar modules from $3 per watt to $1 per watt, which could be huge once this recession blows over and people start getting back on track in finding ways to more efficiently use solar power.
There has also been speculation that Obama is considering using solar panels in the White House.
By the way, I had no idea that the Carter installed solar panels when he was president, or that the panels were later taken down by Reagan - which makes sense...Reagan was no friend to alternative energy or the environment. But what was most surprising was that there were additional solar panels added in 2003 under George W. Bush.