The future for alternative energys presence in the U.S. appears far from certain at the moment, but that hasnt stopped some areas of the country from thriving in the production of solar panels and wind turbines.
The Pacific Northwest corridor has emerged as one of the most robust markets for alternative production, according to a report from the Portland-Vancouver Regional Partners Council for Economic Development.
Over the last three years, Oregon has seen 85 companies locate or expand operations within the state, led by companies such as SolarWorld, the largest manufacturer of solar panels in the U.S., Solexant, a developer of thin film PV technologies and Sanyo Solar, a manufacturer of high-efficiency panels.
Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski established Oregons push into becoming a hub for renewables back in 2007 through the creation the combination of tax incentive and assistance programs, energy portfolio standards, innovation investments and loan programs.
Despite the economic downturn, a number of companies in the Portland Vancouver region have made new investments to expand services and products into the solar and wind arenas, says Gillian Floren, CEO of Greenlight Greater Portland. Its a strategic move that is already benefitting many local businesses.
Vestas Wind Systems, one of the largest manufacturers of wind turbines in the world, relocated its North American headquarters in Portland. Meanwhile, Portland General Electric teamed with Ford to develop electric vehicle infrastructure and policy in anticipation for the coming wave of electric cars that will hit the market over the next several years.
According to the report, wind and solar companies have been lured not just by incentive programs from the state, but also by Oregons cultivation of its industrial base. Manufacturing is cited in the study as the most likely sector to grow in the next five years.