Iowa stands to gain thousands of jobs and economic benefits by developing solar power, according to a report released today.

The report included a job-impact analysis by Iowa State University researcher David Swenson and was produced by the Iowa Policy Project along with the Iowa Environmental Council, the Environmental Law and Policy Center and the Vote Solar Initiative. It was presented this morning to lawmakers at the state Capitol by David Osterberg, executive director of the Iowa Policy Project, and former University of Iowa football player Tim Dwight, director of program development for California-based Integrated Power Corp.

"The job creation potential of the solar industry is surprisingly large," said Osterberg in a press release.

Swenson found that during the fifth year of a program to install 300 megawatts of solar power generating capacity in Iowa, almost 5,000 jobs would be created and more than $332 million would be added to Iowa's economy.

Iowa had 3,675 megawatts of wind power generating capacity in 2010, growing just 243 megawatts from the capacity in 2000, according to the report. Three hundred megawatts of solar energy would be larger than the largest wind farm in Iowa, Osterberg said.

Dwight, the former Hawkeye star, told the Business Record in February that "we've got to start manufacturing this stuff on a bigger scale in our country."

The report noted that at least 25 Iowa businesses and nonprofits and 16 Iowa universities, colleges, schools and libraries use solar energy.

For a related story in the Business Record, click here.