Will Congress extend solar and wind tax credits?

TEMPE, ARIZONA - Evolution Solar Corp.'s CEO, Robert Kaapke expects 2008 to be a record setting year for both solar and wind.

With the tax credits set to expire at the end of 2008, "(Solar installers) don't want to go beyond the December 31st deadline, so everybody's trying to jam-pack their orders in before the end of the year," said Kenedi of Sharp Electronics, the largest U.S. producer of solar panels.

"From the manufacturing perspective, we're sold out," said Tom Mueller, a spokesman for BP Solar in Houston.

Tucson-based Technicians for Sustainability buys solar from Schott Solar Inc. and Sun Power Corp. Both makers have told company president Kevin Koch that he will likely not be able to get any more panels this year.

The solar tax credit covers 30% of a system's cost, but it will drop to 10% Jan. 1 2009 if Congress doesn't act soon.

The likelihood of taking on a new job right now is low, said Tom Dyer, senior vice president of marketing and government affairs at Scottsdale-based Kyocera Solar Inc.

“The historical growth within the solar industry is creating a huge demand on suppliers and manufacturers in the market. Silicon prices have gone through the roof and there is a very limited supply of panels," stated Robert Kaapke, CEO of Evolution Solar.

Some think the U.S. could be generating 10% of its electricity from the sun within 10-15 years, and Scientific American published a scheme last year for drawing almost 70% of our power using solar by 2050. Merrill Lynch's Mark Heller noted that solar startups raised more money in 2007-8 than Internet stocks did in their 1998 heyday.


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