Secretary Salazar Underscores Green Jobs, Clean Energy Economy in Visit to High-Tech Solar Panel Plant

Last edited 09/29/2021

LONGMONT, CO – Calling them a vanguard for a reinvigorated U.S. high-tech manufacturing sector, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today met with employees of an innovative solar panel company that has created more than 200 ‘green jobs' in two years and expects to double employment by next year.

“Abound Solar and hundreds of renewable energy companies sprouting up across the nation are keys to solving our energy and climate change challenges,” Secretary Salazar said. “The President's energy policy is jump-starting the creation of an American Clean Energy sector of cutting-edge firms that together will generate millions of jobs, restore America's role as a global leader in the clean energy industry, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and cut carbon pollution.”

Abound Solar Inc., which carries out commercial scale manufacturing of next-generation thin-film solar photovoltaic modules, started with four employees in 2007 as a spinoff from Colorado State University, which developed the technology. It has created 200 jobs in Colorado in two years and expects to have 420 employees by 2010. At capacity, the plant manufactures 3 million modules per year – enough to provide renewable energy to 40,000 homes. In addition, one of the company's clients recently relocated some of their operations to Colorado so they can be closer to Abound.

Abound Solar is a product of federal and state government support for clean energy technology innovation. Three of the company's founders worked for Colorado State University before spinning off, with help from the National Science Foundation and Department of Energy. The company, which uses a continuous, in-line, semiconductor deposition process to convert sheets of glass to solar panels in less than two hours, believes its proprietary manufacturing technology will reduce production costs compared to other companies. Company officials say the firm is well positioned to deliver high-performing, cost-effective, solar energy systems that can accelerate clean energy usage around the world.

Colorado has been a national leader in attracting renewable energy investment to create new jobs and build a foundation for a clean energy economy, Salazar said. From 2006 to 2008 Colorado ranked fifth in the nation in attracting venture capital, most of which went to renewable energy, according to the Pew Center on the States.

Solar, wind and other renewable energy and energy efficiency activity generated $10.3 billion in sales and provided over 91,000 jobs in Colorado in 2007, accounting for more than 4 percent of the gross state product. This could grow to as much as $61.5 billion and 613,000 jobs by 2030 with continued leadership, research, development, and policy efforts, Salazar said.

Interior has a leadership role in carrying out the President's vision for a clean energy economy. Overseeing 20 percent of the nation's landmass and 1.7 billion offshore acres, the Department manages resources containing an estimated 2,900 gigawatts of solar energy potential in the Southwest; 206 gigawatts of wind energy potential on public lands in the West; and 1,000 gigawatts of wind energy potential in waters off the Atlantic coast.

Salazar noted that the Department is investing $41 million through the President's economic recovery plan to spur a rapid and responsible move to large-scale production of renewable energy on public lands. In a major initiative, Interior is evaluating 24 Solar Energy Study Areas for environmentally appropriate expedited solar energy development. Four are in southern Colorado.

Together, these Solar Energy Study Areas could generate nearly 100,000 megawatts of solar electricity, enough to power more than 29 million American homes. More than 6,000 megawatts of new capacity – mostly in California, Arizona, and New Mexico – could be ready by 2010. That is enough to power 1.8 million homes.

Of the wind projects currently proposed on Bureau of Land Management lands, 1,400 megawatts of new capacity could be ready for construction by the end of 2010. That is enough to power more than 400,000 homes. Interior also is opening Renewable Energy Coordination Offices in California, Nevada, Wyoming, and Arizona, and creating smaller renewable energy teams in New Mexico, Idaho, Utah, Colorado and Oregon.

In addition, the Department has issued rules of the road for commercial offshore wind energy development; cut red tape for offshore wind permitting and is working on a major initiative for locating renewable energy transmission corridors on public lands.

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