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Colorado solar plant generates jobs and energy

Colorado solar plant generates jobs and energy(By Amy Lou Jenkins via Examiner.com)Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar visted the High-Tech Solar Panel Plant in

Longmont, CO to call attention to a reinvigorated U.S. high-tech

manufacturing sector. Salazar 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. Tha