Okay, so everybody knows about Hoosiers basketball and the Indy 500, but those two sports powerhouses might soon have to take a back seat to another Indiana superstar: solar power. The largest thin film solar plant in the U.S. is slated to be developed in Tipton, Indiana and it will create more than 1,000 permanent full time green jobs. The new factory, a project of Abound Solar, is being built with the help of a $400 million loan guaranty from the Department of Energy.
New Green Jobs
Ironically, the announcement came down just a day after President Obama met with corporate leaders and asked them to step up their hiring. As it turns out part of the reason we’re still in the economic doldrums is “companies have stockpiled record amounts of cash” but have chosen not to add staff until – well, until we’re out of the doldrums, basically. Fortunately the Obama administration has recognized that a boost from the federal government is needed to create a more stable, less risky environment for hiring. The new plant is just one of hundreds of new green job ventures created by federal programs including, most notably, the Recovery Act.
1,000 Solar Energy Jobs for Indiana
The new solar plant will occupy an existing facility that was abandoned after the former owner went bankrupt, so it’s also a good example of how alternative energy can revitalize brownfields and other empty industrial facilities – as opposed to fossil fuel harvesting, which all too often destroys the space it occupies. Once up to speed, the plant will have the capacity to produce 640 megawatts’ worth of thin film photovoltaic cells, which Abound Solar describes as based on “next-generation, cadmium telluride” technology.
Alternative Energy in Indiana
Like other midwestern states, Indiana is starting to host new wind farms (which, by the way, can be sited on working farms, providing farmers with new lease income) and new federally funded solar installations. It’s also getting a share of the federal money turned down by Wisconsin and Ohio for high-speed rail projects along with other federal grants for green transportation. As for the iconic Indy 500, as part of this year’s festivities the Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosted an exhibit by the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and next-generation battery manufacturer EnerDel, featuring the latest low-emission, sustainable energy automotive technology.
Image: Indy 500 by bnpositive on flickr.com.
Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.