Energy secretary: Solar panel market ‘will dwarf the beer market’
The solar panel market will outgrow and “dwarf” the beer market, U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu predicted Thursday.
Chu cited a report saying that the global green energy market is worth almost $240 billion worldwide, and that photovoltaic systems — which turn light into electricity at the atomic level — are part of an $80 billion market.
“That’s nearly as much as Americans spend every year on beer,” he said. “The difference is that the solar PV market will grow and will dwarf the beer market.”
Chu also defended incentivizing green energy innovations, while admitting that the federal loan guarantee program could be improved.
The loan program, which ended in late September, famously lost over a half-billion dollars when the California-based solar energy company Solyndra filed for bankruptcy on Sept. 6. (RELATED: House panel approves subpoena on Solyndra loan)
“I think what one could do differently is you start with the idea that Congress and the administration can design a better loan program,” Chu said during a policy discussion hosted by The Washington Post, The Hill reported.
Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association in Colorado, told The Daily Caller that the retail value of beer in the U.S. is believed to be approximately $101 billion for 2010. When asked which product — beer or solar panels — is more valuable to the U.S. economy, Gatza noted that private breweries and solar panels complement each other.
“It takes the sun to help solar panels do their thing, and it takes the sun to grow barley and hops for beer,” he said in an email. “It is believed that Sierra Nevada Brewing Company produces the most solar energy of any private company in California.”
Chu attempted to draw parallels with the development of the airplane, automobile and information technology, and claimed that the competition with other countries is heating up.
“While some people in Washington are debating whether the clean energy economy is real or whether we should try to compete, other countries are seizing the opportunity,” he said in prepared remarks.
The Energy Department has “stimulated the innovation chain,” Chu added; he also justified doling out over $35 billion in loan guarantees.
“Not every company or every product will succeed, but that is no reason to sit on the sidelines and concede leadership in clean energy,” he said.
“America faces a choice today: Are we going to recognize the opportunity and compete in the clean energy race or will we wave the white flag and watch all of these jobs go to China, Korea, Germany and other countries?”
This article was updated after publication to include comments from Paul Gatza.