Tennessee Needs to Create TLC to bring in Solar Investments

What is TLC? Back in 2009, the Deutsche Bank Climate Change Advisers published a study tracking 270 major climate policies in 109 countries. The results of the study was that successful projects where those that offered investors TLC – transparency, longevity and certainty. The research went on to find that the United states lacked TLC and was lagging behind other countries, notably China and Germany. While other counties have adopted strong policy frameworks with integrated plans and clear targets, incentives and mandates, the Federal regulatory regime has been described as a “chaotic patchwork, constantly changing” with short-term approaches that amount to nothing more than just stop gap measures.
Other states are creating the jobs and bringing in solar such as California. California’s most recent step is called the California Renewable energy Resources Act (CRERA), which requires all California electricity providers to obtain at least 33 percent of their energy from renewable resources by the year 2020. The measures associated with CRERA have attracted capital to the State, driven economic recovery and produced jobs. Venture capital investments in California approximated $6.6 billion from 2006 to 2008, more than all other states combined.

While other neighboring states of Tennessee are being selected for cell and solar module plants, none have selected Tennessee. Durham-based Semprius announced plans to build a pilot plant to produce high efficiency, low-cost high concentration photovoltaic (HCPV) solar modules in Vance County, NC; solar panel manufacturer Jetion Solar (US) Corp., opened its first North American headquarters in Charlotte NC in May which will employ 250+ people within five years. Mississippi has Stion making panels, Calisolar, a California-based producer of solar and industrial materials, is investing $600 million to construct a new silicon metal production facility and silicon refinery operation near Columbus, Mississippi. A total of 951 direct full-time jobs with an average annual salary of $45,000 plus benefits are expected to result from this investment. With an anticipated $42.7 million annual payroll, the project also will create an estimated 1,000 temporary construction jobs. Arkansas has a new startup Calisolar, a California-based silicon manufacturing company, to build a factory in Columbus. Suniva’s corporate headquarters and manufacturing plant, with a capacity of 170 MW, are located in Norcross, Georgia

Why? It appears that these factors are lacking in our state’s long-range planning for continued investment in solar manufacturing here. We have manufacturers such as Hemlock and Wacker located here. They will provide the basic raw material for solar modules. Except for Sharp in Memphis which was began there in 1979 before the great interest in solar photovoltaics, we have been at a standstill regarding the progression of polysilicon to panels. So far this year there has been no visible progress in attracting either a solar cell or panel manufacturing plant here in Tennessee.