Swiss Energy Giant Invests in California Solar Company

Bolstered by President Barack Obama’s recent State of the Union address, a major Swiss power company is heavily investing in California solar energy, adding momentum to the federal green energy movement. Over the past several years, federal policy has sought to encourage renewable energy projects, offering farm loans and grants to farmers and businesses that participated in renewable energy projects. Obama’s recent State of the Union address emphasized the need for the United States to achieve energy independence, leading many farmers and environmentalists to hope that federal funding and farm loans for energy projects will continue despite recent austerity measures in Congress.
The Zurich based ABB Group’s recent investment in GreenVolts, a California solar power company, could boost the president’s energy policies. Its success could create a ripple effect of increasing federal funding and increasing farm loans for energy projects nationwide. GreenVolt’s recent research has revolved around fully integrated photovoltaic systems. These systems contain their own modules, trackers, and energy monitoring software, increasing the efficiency of solar power, and making them cost-effective for American farmers. With the support of federal farm loans, individual farmers could potentially install these systems, simultaneously reducing their own production costs and helping the environment.
If these investments payoff, they could signal a major shift in federal energy policy. The ability of farmers to fund their own renewable energy projects with federal farm loans could lessen the dependence on foreign oil, limiting the need to rely on risky oil pipelines which could leak and damage valuable cropland. In addition, reducing fuel costs could help many farmers stay afloat financially and could help lower crop prices.
However, solar projects face competition for access to farm loans and federal support. With the technology for solar power production still in its infancy, many farm policymakers have thrown their weight behind more proven energy production. Ethanol production is still at the top of the list for federal agricultural support and farm loans for ethanol projects are often more lucrative than those for solar or green energy projects. Solar energy, however, will have larger long-term benefits, supporters argue, allowing farmers who invest in green energy projects and take out farm loans for the installation of renewable energy systems to reap major rewards down the line.