Make us your home page

Solar power ready to shine

In a converted warehouse at the Solar Source company headquarters in Largo, president and solar technology contractor Wayne Wallace is training his competition.

He calls his endeavor the Solar Source University.

And while dozens of electricians, building inspectors and contractors have signed up for classes at this 7-month-old institution to learn about all things solar, like how to market sunshine, Wallace said the more competitors in the field, the merrier. These days, there's plenty of business to go around.

"It's almost unfathomable, really," Wallace said. "We're having a hard time keeping up with orders. Our phones are ringing off the hook."

For Wallace and Solar Source, the market for solar tech, such as electricity-generating photovoltaic panels and sun-powered water heaters, has been shining. The company expects sales to more than double this year from $4.5-million to $10-million, and the employee count to swell from about 40 to 80.

And Wallace, who has been in the industry since 1984, said the solar future in Florida is just beginning to rise.

"We've been fueling a rocket ship," Wallace said. "And it's about to take off."

While the solar power industry in the state and across the country is tiny as a percentage of total electricity generation — less than 1 percent — its growth has skyrocketed in recent years, spurred on by high energy prices and changing attitudes toward the environment.

Nationwide, investment in the solar industry has grown more than 40 percent every year since 2000, and venture capital investment, a telltale sign of a potentially hot product, tripled to more than $1-billion between 2006 and 2007, according to a report released this month by researcher Clean-Edge.

"I think that Florida is the next big solar market," said Bob Reedy, director of the Solar Energy Center at the University of Central Florida. "It's a sleeping lion that is just waking."

Dominick Tao can be reached at or (727) 893-8751.

Solar power ready to shine 06/25/08 [Last modified: Saturday, June 28, 2008 8:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Ousted to political Siberia by Corcoran, Kathleen Peters sets sights on Pinellas Commission

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The perks of power in Tallahassee are a coveted chairmanship, a Capitol office in a prime location and a prominent seat on the House floor. Now Rep. Kathleen Peters has lost all three, but here's the twist: Her trip to "Siberia" might actually help her reach the next step on the Tampa Bay political …

    Rep. Kathleen Peters, R-South Pasadena, has been relegated to the back row in the State House chamber, moved to a fouth floor office and stripped of her job as chairwoman of a House subcommittee after a series of disagreements with House Speaker Richard Corcoran. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  2. UPS relocates express operations from St. Pete-Clearwater to TIA


    TAMPA — United Parcel Service Inc. is switching airports for its express air operations. Beginning in October, UPS will relocate from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Tampa International Airport.

    Beginning in October, UPS will move from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Tampa International Airport. [Associated Press file photo]

  3. Richard Corcoran takes aim at public financing of campaigns

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, may not be running for governor — not yet anyway — but his latest idea will get the attention of those who are.

    House Speaker Richard Corcoran wants the Constitu?tion Revision Commis?sion to ask voters to repeal the state’s system of partial financing of statewide elections.
  4. Related Group breaks ground on complex at old Tampa Tribune site

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — When Miami developer Jorge Perez first eyed a 4.2-acre tract on the west bank of the Hillsborough River two years ago, people asked him if he wouldn't prefer to build on the opposite side closer to the downtown core.

    No way.

    From left, Related Group executive associate Arturo Penaa, Jorge Perez, center, founder and CEO of the Related Group, Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Steve Patterson, the President of Related Development dig their shovels  during the groundbreaking ceremony of the 400 unit Riverwalk Manor apartment complex on site of the old Tampa Tribune building on Wednesday. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
  5. Eat 3-course meals for $35 at these 100 restaurants for Orlando's Magical Dining Month

    Food & Dining

    In the early 1900s, hotels offered "table d'hote" or "prix fixe" menus as a form of loss leader. Hotels didn't necessarily make money on these lower-priced, multi-course meals, often served at communal tables, but they made up for it on the booze. Prohibition may have contributed to a gradual shift toward a la carte …

    Bulla Gastrobar serves a variety of Spanish and Portuguese dishes.