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Secretary Steven Chu with Sharp executive T.C. Jones, standing in front of some of Sharp’s solar panels.
Following the State of the Union on Tuesday and his online town hall on Wednesday, on Thursday Secretary Chu toured two facilities in Memphis, Tennessee, that exemplify America's growing strength in clean energy.
The first was the Sharp solar manufacturing plant, which has produced more than 2 million solar panels since 2002; and the second was the FedEx Memphis SuperHub, where the Secretary viewed some of the company's fleet of electric and hybrid delivery vehicles.
In response to more consumer demand for solar power, Sharp has increased its staff from 300 to 480 employees over the last year. And thanks to additional federal incentives, the company has grown the production capacity at its Memphis plant from 60 megawatts a year to 140 megawatts of solar paneling, enough to power over 140,000 homes.
Worldwide, FedEx Express is operating 329 hybrid and 19 all-electric vehicles. Those 348 have driven over 7.7 million miles - reducing fuel use by almost 300,000 gallons and carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 3,000 metric tons. The FedEx hybrid vehicle project has been recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Harvard University and WestSTART-CALSTART for its role spurring hybrid truck advancements.
Production of solar panels and deployment of electric vehicles are only part of our country's complete clean energy equation, but the Secretary believes their success stories should serve as an inspiration to more companies and to building our country’s energy future.
G. Simmons is a New Media Specialist and contractor to the Office of Public Affairs.