U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) today praised the work of several Tennessee organizations on solar energy at a hearing on “green” buildings before the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee.
“I have hopes that Tennessee will one day become the center of solar cell manufacturing in the United States,” Alexander said. “Many people assume that solar energy can only be used in places like Arizona, but the largest market for solar cell technology is actually in Germany, which has more cloud cover annually than the Tennessee Valley.”
Sharp Corporation, the world’s leading manufacturer of solar photovotaics, has its only U.S. manufacturing facility in Memphis. It has created more than 200 jobs and doubled its capacity twice since production began in 2003.
Alexander also praised the work of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Habitat for Humanity, and TVA in “designing, building and monitoring ‘zero-energy’ houses in Lenoir City.”
“American has five percent of the people in the world but uses 25 percent of the energy,” said Alexander. “Homes like these, which produce as much energy as they use, will allow us to be more efficient and energy independent.”
Another Tennessee leader in energy efficient buildings is the John J. Duncan Federal Building in Knoxville, which was retrofitted to conserve energy and water and won an award from the U.S. Department of Energy in 2006. It now uses Sharp solar cells.
Alexander is a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the recipient of the 2005 Solar Energy Industries Association “Solar Champion” award for his work to make solar energy accessible to all Americans. He is a cosponsor of the Public Building Cost Reduction Act of 2007 (S. 992) is a response to the fact that buildings account for about 40 percent of the total energy used in the United States, and as much as 70 percent of the electricity.