Las Vegas Sun

August 20, 2019

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Henderson hosts Global Solar Summit

Solar power plant

Kyle B. Hansen

The Las Vegas Valley is seen between two solar panels at the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s River Mountains Water Treatment Facility in Henderson.

Nevada can be a leader in solar energy. And the city of Henderson wants solar manufacturers and developers to know that.

The city is hosting a two-day Global Solar Summit at the M Resort, with guests from solar power companies from China, Korea, Germany and other countries to look for ways to diversify the local economy and create jobs for Southern Nevadans in the solar industry.

The $75,000 conference was paid for by $700 per person registration costs, corporate sponsors at $3,000 each and $10,000 from Henderson economic development budget.

Bob Cooper, the city’s economic development manager, said the conference, the first of its kind in Nevada, is dedicated to getting leading companies in solar energy development to think of the valley as a frontier for the solar economy. He said currently there are no solar panel makers in the valley but that there is a potential for jobs in manufacturing and construction.

“We’re looking to help local businesses to secure new contracts and start initial conversations with panel manufacturers,” Cooper said.

“Each day we will have a 'Nevada commercial,'” he said, that will display the growth in Southern Nevada opportunities. “We’ll close with the incentives of expanding here.”

According to Donald B. Reid, moderator for the first panel at the summit, Nevada has a 30,000-megawatt potential for solar energy, which is equivalent to 30 nuclear power plants.

Clark County Commissioners Chair Susan Brager welcomed guests to the summit by highlighting the county’s current solar projects, adding that Southern Nevadan has an abundance of available land.

“The land is there,” said Brager. “Currently we’re working with ENN Solar Energy to build a manufacturing generation facility. There is approximately 5,100 acres outside of Laughlin. The manufacturing side will produce solar panels for residential and commercial.”

Another large scale solar projects sits outside of Prim, with a 600-acre, 400-megawatt solar project that is expected to start delivering power in 2013, she said.

But Nick Bullinger, COO at OCI Solar Power, a South Korean-based solar developer, said the solar power industry is still in its infancy and the drop in price per watt for a solar panel should reach its scale in the U.S.

“Initial commitments could actually be manufacturing within 12 months, but it requires a collaborative effort with the utilities, the state government and local government and the manufactures to pull together the entire business environment that would make it attractive,” Bullinger said.

Johnathan Pickering, president of JA Solar, the largest solar cell supplier in the world, said the combination of a growing solar industry and the steep decline in the price of a solar panel makes it an optimal time to invest in solar energy. Las Vegas, he said, gets twice the amount of sun hours as Germany, which is the center of solar energy production in Europe.

He extended an open invitation to Nevada.

“We’re open for business and we want to partner with you,” Pickering said.

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