As an organization that supports the solar industry and that is pushing for solar to be safe and environmentally sustainable, we at the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition (SVTC) were incredibly saddened to learn the news of Solyndra.
Although our Just and Sustainable Solar Campaign is objective and looks at all of the solar companies’ environmental practices with a critical eye, there are some companies which we do silently root for and Solyndra was one of these companies.
Why? As a company started in California they did their best to manufacture in California. In our conversations with Solyndra, they frequently lamented how costly it was to keep jobs here and regardless of the strong environmental laws in California they did not go elsewhere.
Making solar panels in California – so close to the market (where they hoped to sell) would mean a smaller carbon footprint for the solar products as the panels go from production to rooftop and eventually for recycling.
And to their credit, although Solyndra was never scored in our solar scorecard (as they never responded to our survey) they met with SVTC on a number of occasions and participated in our events to further the discussion on solar panel recycling.
We feel for the employees that were locked out and the suddenness in which it all happened. This is certainly a hardship on the workers and their families. However, we hope that this event does not discourage workers in the solar industry or discourage solar companies from moving to California.
If California plans to produce 20,000 MW of new renewable energy generation we will need to ensure that renewable energy companies who sell in the California market are also committed to having a manufacturing presence here. We should continue to support companies that are attempting to adhere to high environmental standards, produce new innovative products, and create jobs here at home.