A promising ray of sun shines down on the solar industry in California. Warren Buffet, in the guise of MidAmerican Energy Holdings, recently entered into an agreement to invest $2-billion in a photovoltaic farm. Buffet’s vote of confidence in the solar energy segment of the fuel industry speaks volumes about its projected success.
The 550-megawatt solar energy development is called Topaz Solar Farm. The deal for purchase was made with First Solar Inc., located in Tempe, Ariz. First Solar will construct the solar plant and operate it for MidAmerican. It is expected to generate sufficient power to fuel 160,000 homes from its San Luis Obispo County location. Date of completion is scheduled for 2015. However, it will begin to provide some limited amounts of power before then.
The Energy Department reports that the U.S. is dependent on fossil fuels to supply 83 percent of the energy the country needs. One percent of the alternative energy produced for U.S. use is solar power. The solar manufacturing industry has been unable to flourish due to competition from China in production of photovoltaic panels and the falling prices of the systems. These factors contributed to the August 31st bankruptcy of one Fremont, California based company, Solyndra. Its failure occurred in spite of the granting of a $535-million federally guaranteed loan.
The Solyndra bankruptcy in August received an undue amount of attention in the press. One expert claimed that politics related to the 2012 election campaign influenced its demise. In February, there was a restructuring of the funding. The return of $69-million in private funding, invested by Kaiser, was given precedence over the $535-million loan funded by the U.S. taxpayers. When Solyndra closed on August 31st the taxpayers were in line behind Kaiser for any liquidated funds.
There is an ongoing investigation into the matter. In the meantime, the solar energy industry is somewhat stigmatized by the entire event.
Since Buffet has the magic touch when it comes to succeeding in business ventures, supporters of green energy are hopeful that his investment in Topaz Solar Farm will draw other investors. The solar energy industry is currently a $6-billion industry showing a 67 percent growth rate since 2009. Of all U.S. renewable energy sources, the solar energy segment shows the fastest rate of growth.
In the current economy, any industry capable of adding employment for approximately 100,000 U.S. citizens is a laudable one. Twenty-five percent of the positions are in sunny California. The solar industry is expected to create another 25,000 jobs in 2012.
Buffet’s MidAmerican Energy Holdings has other interests in the renewable energy industry. The company’s investments in wind power show evidence of growth. Predictions are for them to accumulate approximately 3,300 megawatts of wind power before the end of 2012.
Buffet seems to prevail at everything he touches and his actions are bound to be emulated. Therefore, other corporate giants will follow his example by investing in renewable energy sources. His leadership in this direction will prove beneficial to the people in the state of California, and the entire United States. Big business will serve as both benefactor and beneficiary of the power of the sun.