Updates on the Current State of Solar in the Toledo Region
"Hosting area business leaders and educators as part of this Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce event was a privilege. It's important to share community spirit and take pride in such fruitful and blossoming partnerships.” - Jay Lake, Manufacturing Workforce Development Community Relations Manager, First Solar
Rudolph Libbe entered the solar space in 2007 because they saw solar as a way to diversify within their core business of construction. Since 2007, Slattery reported, Solar has been a big growth spot for the business. This year alone they have seen 100% growth and are looking to double their staff.
Slattery outlined the top performing countries in the solar market. China is leading the world in solar installations, the United States is second, followed by Japan and India, respectively.
Currently there is a 30% federal tax credit on solar construction projects that will continue through 2019. These credits are contributing to the growth of the solar market, which is doubling in size every two years. According to Slattery, in order for Ohio to grow within the U.S. solar market, “We need Columbus to provide stable policy so we can attract cost effective investments to our state and build more solar projects.” – Jason Slattery, Director of Solar, GEM Energy
He also focused on the advantages of solar energy within the modern grid, a topic discussed at the TRCC Ohio Chamber Day. The existing grid, which uses a significant amount of coal and nuclear, lost a lot of energy in the line because the energy had to travel extreme distances between the point of production and the point of use. In a modernized grid, energy is produced where it is used, maximizing the efficiency of the grid. 6500 megawatts of Ohio Coal plants have been retired over the last five years and that gap needs to be filled. Slattery hopes to fill it with a combination of solar and natural gas.
Clarence Hertzefeld, First Solar, gave a short presentation before the tour on “First Solar at a Glance.” First Solar was founded and publically traded in 1999 and is the partner of choice for leading utilities and global power buyers. The Perrysburg plant is home to most of First Solar’s global operational support organizations. Hertzfeld credits their growth and optimal position in the marketplace to their advancement of technology and having the fastest innovation rate in the industry. Also, as demand for solar energy grows, their installed system cost falls, making solar energy a more accessible solution.
In the last year, First Solar brought 100 jobs to the Toledo Region and became the largest North American producer due to the 200 megawatts of capacity they added last year, bringing their total annualized capacity to 630 megawatts. More than 1350 associates are employed in the Toledo Region by the company.
Beyond touring the First Solar plant, there are several opportunities to see solar energy at work in the Toledo Region. The 180th Fighter Wing has an installation as well as the Toledo Zoo. Thank you First Solar for opening your doors to our members and providing a memorable morning.