SCHOTT Solar today ceremonially inaugurated its state-of-the-art manufacturing facility for products used to generate solar power, one year after breaking-ground on the project’s first-phase. The 200,000 square-foot facility represents an initial investment of over $100 million USD in the Albuquerque region from the global SCHOTT Solar group. SCHOTT has created 350 jobs at the new facility, which will continue to ramp up production throughout the summer.
Federal, New Mexico, and Albuquerque dignitaries and government officials joined SCHOTT Solar executives to dedicate the facility. Government officials praised the facility as a bright spot in the regional and national economy.
‘This facility is proof that smart policy can create jobs and spur investment,’ said New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. ‘SCHOTT Solar has recognized the vast potential that exists for solar energy in the United States and especially New Mexico. They have taken a leadership position to manufacture technologies that can capture this limitless energy source.’
Anticipating the need to increase production of its solar power technologies as the market for renewable energy in the U.S. grows, the new site is designed to support expansion of both SCHOTT’s photovoltaic module and solar thermal receiver lines. Long term plans call for the buildings to expand to 800,000 square feet with employment reaching 1,500 people, representing a total investment of approximately $500 million.
‘Today is an extremely proud day for SCHOTT,’ said Dr. Udo Ungeheuer, Chairman of SCHOTT’s Board of Management. ‘With the inauguration of this facility, SCHOTT Solar is further demonstrating the company’s position as a global player in solar technology and our ongoing commitment to developing the North American market through strategic investment.’
SCHOTT Solar’s manufacturing facility in Albuquerque is the first new solar manufacturing facility to open since the Federal government signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law. This law provides numerous incentives, including incentives for solar manufacturing, to help expand the renewable energy industry. By 2016, the U.S. solar industry is expected to support more than 440,000 permanent, full-time jobs, including many in the manufacturing and construction industries, according to Navigant Consulting. The development of solar energy has widespread support from the American public. In a study commissioned in 2008, 94% of respondents indicated it was important for the United States to develop and use solar energy.
Powerful Products from a Powerful Project
For the first phase, the Albuquerque facility will have an annual capacity of up to 85 MW of photovoltaic (PV) 225 watt polycrystalline modules, sold under the name SCHOTT Solar Poly 225. The 225 watt module is well suited for a diverse range of applications and is particularly well suited for commercial buildings and schools thanks to its size and durability. The highly-automated manufacturing process used in Albuquerque combines best practices from SCHOTT Solar’s global manufacturing expertise to deliver an efficient, high-quality and reliable module.
In addition to manufacturing photovoltaics, SCHOTT Solar’s Albuquerque flagship facility is the first in the U.S. to produce receivers used in parabolic trough, utility-scale, concentrated solar power plants (CSP). Initially, the two production lines will produce enough receivers to meet the demands of up to 400 MW CSP power plants per year.
SCHOTT Solar receivers are advanced, specially coated steel absorber tubes embedded in evacuated glass envelopes. These receivers sit at the focal point of parabolic mirrors, where the sun’s thermal radiation is concentrated. A heat transfer fluid (HTF) is heated by the sun’s energy inside the receiver. The fluid then flows to a heat exchanger, which creates steam. This steam spins a turbine, creating energy with no carbon emissions.
SCHOTT Solar designed its manufacturing process in Albuquerque to accommodate future developments for CSP receivers. Prototypes of next generation receivers were unveiled by SCHOTT Solar during the inauguration of the Albuquerque facility. The new receivers offer new dimensions and can accommodate alternative heat transfer fluids. These changes are designed to increase the overall efficiency of CSP power plants, which will help to reduce costs for utility-scale solar energy production.
‘Products from SCHOTT Solar are recognized around the world for their high quality and durability,’ explained Dr. Martin Heming, President and CEO of SCHOTT Solar’s worldwide operations. ‘Energy prices are historically very volatile, but energy from SCHOTT Solar is reliable, consistent and fixed-cost.’
Solar: A Powerful Energy Source
In just one hour’s time, the amount of energy that the sun shines upon the earth’s surface exceeds the energy consumption of all of mankind in an entire year. The desert southwest of the United States is particularly well-suited to harness the full potential of this inexhaustible energy source.
‘Investing in solar energy is the right investment for today,’ said Dr. Gerald J. Fine, President and CEO of SCHOTT North America. ‘We’re creating stable jobs in an industry that will benefit every American and the country as a whole.’
The opening of the SCHOTT Solar facility in Albuquerque is symbolic of the nation’s growing appetite for renewable energy. President Obama has committed to doubling the nation’s renewable energy portfolio in three years. At the end of 2008, the United States had over 1 gigawatt of grid-tied PV and over 400 MW of CSP.