Solar Executives Discuss Industry Issues

Cindy Zimmerman

Solar Power International 2011 (SPI 2011) is taking place this week in Dallas and six of the country’s leading solar executives and innovators held a press call this morning from the conference to talk about issues of interest to the industry.

Lyndon Rive, CEO of SolarCity, says there is tremendous momentum in the solar industry despite backlash from the Solyndra affair. “If you look at the companies here, everyone is doing extremely well, they’re hiring,” he said. “The notion of no job growth in the solar industry is totally fake.”

Recurrent Energy CEO Arno Harris discussed impending trade action against China’s solar industry. “Notices are going out this morning that Solar World is joining a petition to the Trade Commission and the Department of Commerce alleging that China is unfairly subsidizing its solar manufacturers and dumping solar modules on the global market,” said Harris.

Julie Blunden with SunPower says it is a very dynamic time for the solar industry. “One of the things we are pleased to see is the continued interest in evolving technology for lower costs and better performance,” she said, noting that her company was unveiling two product advancements in that area at the show this week.

SunRun president Lynn Jurich focused on the residential solar sector, which is about 30% of the industry. “About four years ago, my company pioneered solar leasing for consumers,” she said, explaining that this business model allows home owners to have a solar system installed and they just pay for electricity from it at a fixed cost. “This model has become the dominant way consumers are adopting solar.”

Danny Kennedy, founder of Sungevity, talked about the importance of the industry in creating jobs. “The solar industry grew 7% in employment over 12 months from August 2010 to August 2011,” he said. “That compares to .7% job growth in the general economy.”

Solaria CEO Dan Shugar concluded opening comments by noting the expanding opportunities for solar in utilities. “Solar is competing head to head with conventional, polluting power generation resources. Today, solar is less expensive than power from a new nuclear power plant, and obviously much lower risk,” he said.

Listen to comments and questions from the media here: Solar Power Executives