Skip to comments.Study: Solar power could add 123,000 new jobs by 2020
Posted on 07/03/2007 1:32:27 PM PDT by P-40
Development of the solar energy industry in Texas would have a significant economic impact for consumers, the environment and workers, according to a study released by the IC2 Institute at the University of Texas at Austin.
Opportunity on the Horizon: Photovoltaics in Texas finds the benefits of nurturing the solar energy industry will stimulate the state's economy, reduce the cost of power for consumers and minimize greenhouse gas emissions.
"Worldwide, the cost of converting sunlight to electricity is rapidly decreasing. The right public policies, combined with emerging and increasingly efficient technologies in solar power, would create a solid opportunity for Texas to build an economic engine on this non-polluting resource," Joel Serface of Clean Energy Incubator said.
The paper cites a recent University of California-Berkeley study that finds the solar industry produces seven to 11 times as many jobs on a megawatt capacity basis as coal-fired power plants and has a larger positive trickle-down effect than wind energy.
Estimates suggest Texas could generate 123,000 new high-wage, technology-related, advanced manufacturing and electrical services jobs by 2020 by actively moving toward solar power. It is predicted these jobs would be created across the entire state as large solar farms grow in West Texas, silicon plants develop along the Gulf Coast and manufacturing centers appear in Central Texas.
The report evaluates the competitive benefits Texas has in the worldwide market and compares the overall results of Texan efforts against other states and international competitors. The study notes that although Texas consumed more energy than any other state and has the best overall climate for producing solar energy year-round, it ranked 8th in solar adoption in 2006, producing just 1/100th of the solar energy of California.
Texans pay about 13 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity. It is believed that the production of photovoltaics, like other semiconductors, would follow a predictable decline in costs. Analysts predict this cost decline will translate to between 10 to 15 cents per kilowatt-hour as early as 2010.
In 1999, the Texas Legislature adopted a bill that introduced the retail competition in the sale of electricity and renewable portfolio standards (RPS) to consumers. Since 2002, electricity-users in deregulated markets have been able to choose their power providers from a multitude of retailers. The legislation requires energy providers to increase the amount of renewable energy produced through a combination of solar, wind, geothermal, hydro wave, tidal, biomass-based waste products or landfill gas.
To date, energy producers have chosen to focus on wind energy for a multitude of reasons, including federal tax incentives for producers, the large amount of wind resources in the state and the scalability of large wind projects. The report concludes that the legislation has brought many benefits to consumers across the state and can be used as a roadmap for the successful expansion of solar power across the state.
Worldwide, investors are confident in the future of solar power. The solar industry grew to $10.6 billion in revenues in 2006 and is estimated to be greater than $30 billion, with some analyst estimates as high as $72 billion for the entire solar value chain by 2010.
The report outlines several recommendations to strengthen the state's solar strategy. Starting with leadership to create the policies necessary for success, Texas could leverage its natural resources, skilled workforce, existing industries and entrepreneurial spirit to create a new energy industry, the report says.
I finished “The Grid” on Sunday and have “Infrastucture” by Hayes open on my desk as I type. I have to agree that they are a couple of the best books I’ve ever read. I’m and old electrical engineer, and I learned a lot of things in those two very readable and entertaining books. Especially “Infrastructure.” It should be in every library.
Speaking of Texas - notes on the nuclear expansions in Texas:
I’m glad you have liked them. I have gotten some of the same responses back from the people I have suggested them to at the utility here in Austin. I mean.....the books sound dull...but they aren’t. Infrastructure was just absolutely amazing...and it was hard to believe that The Grid was written by a PhD in particle physics...and a playwright.
So you’re in Austin? I’m just up north a bit by Fort Hood. Are there any good alternate/renewable enrgy groups down there? Or RE themed stores? I get down there once a month or so.
What particular area are you interested in? I can get you some groups or have you considered talking to the companies involved themselves? The LCRA is great, as is Austin Energy, and one of my favorite wind companies is Cielo Wind located just downtown.
I just recently got interested in the whole energy/environment/efficiency/independence thing. I've had PV panels powering my ham radio shack for years, and I've been interested in home-scale alternate energy systems for quite some time (I was an original stockholder in Real Goods Trading Company when I lived in Calif. back in the day.) But I've just gotten interested in utility-scale issues due to all the climate change hype. I've been doing a lot of reading in the last few months, which is why I happened to have those two books you mentioned.
I'm flying to Munich, Germany next week where I am working with a German company building methanol fuel cells for military applications. I'm finding it quite interesting. I'll be retiring soon after 38 years working for the Army, and might want to look around a bit for a part time gig in the energy biz, just to keep my hand in. Good to know there's some activity in the Austin area.
I’m working on an energy forum that will involve the city now. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes. If this is something that you are interested in...Austin will be where it is at. :)
Keep drinkin that Kool-Aid there Red. [rolls yer danged eyes right back to ya] Ha Ha Ha!!! The Jane Fonda/Michael Moore/Mark Riesner/Wallace Stegner propoganda machine sure has had it’s way with your mind, I see!!!
TXU never wanted the coal plants they wanted and paid money to have PR over having us let them build them???
That doesnt make any sense.
What does make sense is this: Texas needs power to grow and be successful. As gas gets expensive and coal gets unpalatable, nuclear will save the day.
Yeah... These will be mainly night jobs, right? You solar workers better start savin up fer a rainy/cloudy day, too!!!
I’ve no ‘postable’ proof of this...but I think TXU only wanted three new coal plants, and did want two new nuclear generators....but also wanted no more lawsuits. They got their three plants and their two new generators...but I think they will still have some lawsuits to deal with. I think it was one of those ‘we all know we need the energy so how are we going to get it’ type deals. I think at one point they were even ‘suggesting’ taking plants down for maintenance during summer.
“I am watching Exelons efforts with the Matagorda County effort. “
As a central Texas resident and Excelon shareholder, I am watching with interest as well.
I hope their plant goes well.
Now should be a good time to get a nuclear engineering degree and/or get in the nuke construction business again. There should be quite a bit of build out in the next 20 years, should all these plans come to fruition.
The difficulties with the coal proposals and the remaining demand for increased baseload capacity provided a window for NRG Energy, the largest shareholder (44%) of the South Texas Project Nuclear Operating Company (STPNOC) to propose expanding the 2 existing units at STP to 4. TXU similarly proposed expanding the two units at Comanche Peak (Dallas region) to four; these plans remain active after TXU scrapped most coal designs. Two additional plants on greenfield sites are also proposed; one by an Amarillo group, the other by Exelon corp. to be situated on the Gulf Coast somewhere near the STP site. In total, these represent somewhere in the neighborhood of 8000 MW capacity on top of ~4500 MW existing nuclear capacity. For scale, Texas capacity was approx. 63,000 MW in Summer 2006. If 8000 MW of nuclear displaced an equal amount of coal or natural gas and overall consumption remained the same, it would still only bring Texas to the national average for nuclear power usage (~20%). However — it would go a very long way towards decreasing out CO2 emissions, and integrate well with expansion of wind power.”
But still you continue to hype the most expensive way to make electicity... solar!!!
It just doesn't compute!!!
“It is...and my state is the only one that is expanding it that I can think of at the moment. “
Actually there is a LOT of movement on nuclear power plants in many states, with 30 new nuclear power plants on the drawing boards...
“As the nation looks to strengthen its energy security, meet future electricity needs and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, 16 energy companies and consortia over the past 18 months have announced their intention to file license applications with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to build as many as 30 new nuclear power plants.”
BTW, more on Excelon’s site:
Oh, you just don't understand the romance novel aspect of dreamin about stickin it to the massive multinational oil companies who can't even match our multi-level governments in ripping us of each and every day of our lives with taxes on energy.
Plus the intrigue of cutting off OPECKERS who must be force to drink their damned oil because we won't buy it because we're willing to do without power when the sun don't shine, right?
Yeah... That's right! We gots ta git back ta livin like the "simple people" in the rest of the tird whirled! We gots too much affluenza afflictin everything here in these exceptional, usually victorius and triumphant United Straits!!! Shazzam!!! We gots ta turn that all back around, don'tcha know???
“Al Gore & Company will shut up nuclear will be around for a few lifetimes.”
Not that I agree with Al Gore’s Global Warming rantings, but Global Warming fearmongering has been quite helpful in restarting nuclear power plant building. That and $7/mcf for natural gas. Ten years ago, the ‘future’ was natural gas cmbined cycle plants - best economics. But it was built on the basis of cheap gas. I owned calpine stock for a while, and watched that company go to nothing as gas rose and made their gas-fired-power-plant-building strategy untenable.
The other fossil fuels rose in tandem, even coal. It’s the 1970s all over again.
Al Gore’s Global warming crusade is a clarion call to stop using fossil fuels. Well, what are the alternatives? The only on that is economical for baseload generation is nuclear. Moreover, if we did switch from coal to nuclear for 70% of our baseload electricity generation, we would cut our CO2 emissions by 40%. The global warming threat would be hugely diminished. If all we do is simply build new nuclear power plants to replace old coal plants, and do it over the next 30 years, we would go most of the way towards solving global warming.
The logic is so inescapable the more intelligent environmentalists and lefties are on the bandwagon. We need nuclear power in the mix to reduce our CO2 emissions.
I see it as a win/win/win - it’s good economics and pro-energy, gives us sustainable energy independence, and good for the environment.
Now the irony is that the environmental movement is the #1 pusher on global warming *and* the major opponent of nuclear power. This is an issue the environmentalists could end up losing their credibility over, as being the #1 impediment to solving global warming.
Can you translate that?
In other words, you are saying they asked for more than they wanted in order to ‘bargain down’ to their real needs?
Maybe. they wont need all those plants now, but they will sometime in the future. but the funny thing is they were advertizing that the new plants would be so much cleaner that the total emissions would be far less even post expansion.
why would we want that?
And BTW, did you know that the “Coal is filthy” campaign was paid for by the ... (drum roll) gas-fired utility generators!
I think what P-40’s trying to say is that:
1) Technically, you’re absolutely right, though I would add that reprocessing wouldn’t take even a hundred years if we were allowed to build breeder reactors, but the laws are what they are at the moment...
2) People are completely ignorant of how nuclear power and radioactivity work, and are in general terrified of it due to media sensationalism. This won’t change until the public is better educated, which could take a long time or forever depending on how optimistic we want to be about the intelligence of the general public.
In this case, it’s a political, not a technical problem.
But I have also pointed out the polls that show 60-70% favorability to nuclear power. People are not as negative on nuclear power as you might think. Maybe in the 1970s people could be swayed by scaremongering because it was new technology, but nuclear power’s proven track record of safety over the years has won people over and debunked the anti-nuclear activists’ claims.
Keep up the thoughtful discussion, all of you.
I just bought a small panel intended to trickle charge my car battery that cost $15 a watt. This cost is not encouraging.
It’s Jackson Browne’s fault.
You only have a long-term storage problem if you're prohibited from recycling the plutonium into more fuel
And I think the greenies gave up on solar power...now that too many people are using it and getting paid for it. :)
That's the name of the game for the watermelons. They tell everybody to wait for stuff that they expect to never be viable
Ha! Like our colleagues in the ATC business? No smoking for me, and just one cup of caffeine in the morning to get my eyes open. Fortunately, I didn't spend too much time in the dispatching center. You don't do four years of college and six years of grad school to work shifts. But I wanted to have the experience to understand the technology better and to be able to broaden my background as preparation for consulting work. Nothing like learning by doing.
No one notices when the power is on, but they sure notice it when the power is off. Modern grid reliability is in the range of 99.99999% availability, but the 0.00001% unavailability causes a lot of griping. I'm no better, even though I understand the complexity of the technology and have experience with it. Having to deal with an evening of power outage and whiny kids who can't get their MTV and Cartoon Channels is bad enough. One can imagine the "inconvenience" (more like life-hreatening) those who need electricity to literally stay alive go through.
Think of how many more jobs they could create by outlawing power excavating machinery. Half of Mexico would be employed in construction in Dallas alone. (If they aren't alread.)
In fact, if they outlaw shovels and require teaspoons, they could employ all of China as well.
Intervenors have learned to game the system to accomplish their ends. They know it is generally true that you can kill any capital-intensive endeavor if you delay it long enough so that whatever money you end up making doesn't cover the financing charges for a delayed project. Look at the Diablo Canyon travesty. A completed plant sits idle for 10 years, unable to generate a single watt-hour of energy, investors unable to recover costs, because of spurious lawsuits filed by intervenors which, by law, have to be settled before the project can go forward. That process, above all else, has to change, if we're going to find a path to energy independence.
It’s good to see commentary from someone else who has spent time in a control room. Were you generation, transmission, or both?
Those of us working stiffs in the electric utility industry predicted that natural gas rates would skyrocket, which they did. Adding a large chunk of demand vs. a slowly-changing supply did the trick. But gas-fired turbine generators were/are cheap to build, and have been politically pallatable for the last several years while coal and nuclear have been on the s-list for a few decades.
The tide has changed somewhat, and TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) spent a good sum of money re-firing the Browns' Ferry Nuclear Plant's 1155 megawatt generating unit #1, which has sat idle since 1985. This is the first (to my knowledge) move towards adding nuclear-powered generation to the grid in decades.
Coal has also taken a significant turn upward with some 14,000+ megawatts of new coal-fired generation planned to be on line in 2009. That's significant, though I'm not sure of the construction status of these proposals. I'm sure that the environazis have filed their objections to all.
I do know that the supply side is tight, and barring some additions to the supply, we will be experiencing the effects of load reduction up to and including rolling blackouts in many areas if we don't add supply.
A lot of good points ....
“The tide has changed somewhat, and TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) spent a good sum of money re-firing the Browns’ Ferry Nuclear Plant’s 1155 megawatt generating unit #1, which has sat idle since 1985. This is the first (to my knowledge) move towards adding nuclear-powered generation to the grid in decades.”
Yes, Brown’s Ferry restart is the beginning of the ‘nuclear renaissance’ that will surely occur in the next 10-15 years.
We can also thank the 2005 energy bill for fixing a few things in law that was stopping new nuclear plant construction.
“Coal has also taken a significant turn upward with some 14,000+ megawatts of new coal-fired generation planned to be on line in 2009. That’s significant, though I’m not sure of the construction status of these proposals. I’m sure that the environazis have filed their objections to all.”
This is where the global warming factor comes in, not to mention the (reasonable imho) objections to pollution in local areas that have coal plants. The tide is shifting where, for various reasons, coal plants are goign to be resisted a lot more heavily by interest groups and local communities than nuclear plants will be. We saw that in Texas this past year.
Coal and nuclear are close in cost, with the edge to coal, but the utils are not sure about future regulation of CO2 and may have difficulty getting support for coal plant construction. If you had to abate CO2 emissions, nuclear is a better deal economically by far. Hence, the utilities that are smart are looking to nuclear to hedge their bets and/or make it their baseload backbone.
Excelon continues to excel with this strategy.
Please check out Travis Monitor:
This is a local conservative community blog for central Texas/Austin area. we’ve included posts on energy issues in Texas on the blog. P-40, your insights on the Austin energy forum stuff would be more than welcome there.
Thanks, some good points.
Bump for later reading. Ping to others.
This is, in my opinion, unfortunate. The entire global warming (CO2) issue is political bunk, and it will be a shame that such issues continue to make their mark on the US.
Being in the electric utility industry, I've seen the negative effects that nuclear power has brought forth - no, they're not unsafe. And no, they're not really a major pollution issue. But they way they are operated - the micromanagement and procedurized methodology tends to stifle innovation and nudges thinking, intelligent people into procedure-following robots.
I've not worked in nuclear, but I've been in the power industry for almost 3 decades. I've watched as the nuclear methods trickle into the rest of the industry and I'm not impressed. Right now, I work with several newer people that, due to lack of experience in applying basic theory and innovation, are lost if there's no procedure already written for their particular situation. They simply cannot perform in unfamiliar territory. And with the proceduralized management approach, they are not given enough unfamiliar situations in which to hone their skills. Not only that but they've been made to be scared to think for themselves. Management has taken on a very "Germanic" (for lack of a better word) approach to how we operate.
Yes! Of course!! I lapse into slovenly, sloppy, slouchy language whenever I'm fatigued trying to get the "P-40" person to stop hyping solar to the exclusion of all other economically viable sources of energy, especially OPEC/traditional on the false hope we can drive their prices down by some magic alternative or conservation without ruining our own ecomomy, first!!!
You just keep beatin that dead horse till I have a stroke of impatience and go ebonics, er sumthin!!! Ha Ha Ha!!!
We’ve been all through that with you here and on many other threads in vain!!! You just don’t want to get it as you’ve lined up your living and your future with solar and just cannot dare let go!!! That’s a personal problem and we can’t solve that for you...
The regulators beat a lot of operators into this mindset, everything had to be procedurized, right down to how you made a fart. One of my jobs as a consultant was to write a set of scram response procedures for a power reactor, wherein the response to a whole set of scram conditions was the same ("Acknowledge the annunciator. Affirm that rods are on the bottom. Consult ATOG display for plant evolution. Etc. ..."). I asked the operations manager if he really wanted 20 or 30 pages in his procedure manual that said essentially the same thing, stuff that any operator trainee would know. His response was, yes, we had to do it, because Mr. So-And-So (NRC resident inspector) says we have to.
Probably one of the most bone-headed disasters this country ever undertook, using NG in central power stations, whether it be baseload, GT, or combined cycle, whatever. Anyone with an elementary knowledge of economics could see the fallout. Huge increase in demand and a limited supply means skyrocketing prices and shortages. The wackos won't allow any increase in supply (try siting an LNG terminal, which makes siting a nuclear plant seem like child's play). So costs go up, supply dwindles. Yep, sure takes a brainiac to figure that one out.
So we're diverting a perfectly transportable fuel, one very well matched to end use in many applications (building heating, cooking, some industrial processes) and burning it up making electricity, which involves losses, and transporting that, which incurs further losses. The very first thing a nuclear revival, if it happens, should displace, is use of NG in utility applications, as much as possible. And if that means spending some effort improving the load-following capability of nuclear plants, I say do it, and save the NG for better uses.
LOL! Did you know the tinest bit of snowfall shuts Texas down?
Sounds inefficient to me.
What if we put the labor effort into nuclear power?