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Schott Solar Opens NM Plant

Photonics.com
May 2009
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., May 12, 2009 -- The first facility in the world to produce both concentrated solar power receivers and photovoltaic modules was inaugurated with much fanfare Monday in Albuquerque. Schott Solar's flagship North American plant is also the first solar manufacturing facility to open after the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was signed into law in February.

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Schott Solar's flagship North American plant is 200,000-sq-ft and cost $100 million. (Photos: Melinda Rose, Photonics Media)

Attending the ceremony at Schott Solar's $100 million, 200,000-sq-ft facility were company executives from the US and Germany and state, local and national officials, including New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, US Rep. Martin Heinrich and Speaker of the New Mexico House of Representatives Ben Lujan. The grand opening began with a performance by the Dineht tah Navajo Dancers.

Gov. Richardson told the crowd of several hundred that the deal to bring Schott Solar to New Mexico was negotiated in the restaurant of a hotel in New Hampshire two years ago, while he was running for president.

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The Dineht tah Navajo Dancers performed during Schott Solar's grand opening ceremony.

"This is one of the most significant economic development projects in state history," Richardson said of the plant, which expects to employ 350 as it ramps up production over the summer. Estimates are that the potential economic value of the plant to New Mexico will top $1 billion by 2020, he said.

Dr. Udo Ungeheuer, chairman of the board of management at Schott AG, said the site has the potential to employ up to 1500 by 2012 or 2014, a substantial number of jobs in a state with a population of only 2 million.

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New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson speaks on the benefits Schott Solar's new Albuquerque plant is providing his state.

Even though the plant, under construction for the last year, just opened, Schott continues to prepare land near its photovoltaic (PV) and concentrated solar power (CSP) receiver production facilities for future expansion to 800,000 sq ft.

"The US has the potential to become a solar superpower," Ungeheuer said, pointing out that Germany, where Schott AG is located, has the solar energy equivalent of Alaska, yet is a leader in producing and using solar power.

Researchers at Fraunhofer Institute in Germany have calculated that the sun sends enough energy to Earth in one hour to cover the entire planet's energy needs for a full year. President Barack Obama has said he wants to double the nation's renewable energy portfolio in three years.

At the end of 2008, the US had more than 1 GW of grid-tied PV and over 400 MW of CSP. A megawatt of solar capacity provides enough electricity to power between 150 and 250 homes.

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Gov. Richardson (center) and Dr. Udo Ungeheuer of Schott AG sign the first CSP receiver to roll off the assembly line at the new plant while Speaker of the New Mexico House of Representatives Ben Lujan (left) looks on.

The CSP receivers made at Schott Solar's 80-acre Albuquerque facility consist of steel tubes embedded inside larger evacuated glass tubes. The receivers are used in parabolic trough utility-scale power plants. Hundreds of parabolic mirrors concentrate energy from the sun onto the receivers, which are located along the mirrors' focal points.

That energy heats the thermo-oil flowing through the receivers to about 750 °F. That heat turns water into steam, which drives a turbine, generating electricity. The plants can generate over 50 MW, enough to meet the energy needs of thousands of homes.

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Schott Solar's PV modules.

Schott Solar in Albuquerque begins with two CSP receiver lines, with a capacity of 200 MW. Future expansion will double that to four lines. The first phase on the PV side has an annual capacity of up to 85 MW of PV 225 W polycrystalline modules, sold under the Schott Solar Poly 225 name. The size and durability of the modules makes them well-suited to applications such as commercial buildings and schools, the company said.

Dr. Martin Heming, president of Schott Solar AG, told grand opening attendees that while the rest of the PV industry was contracting earlier this year, Schott Solar's sales increased by more than 40 percent.

He attributed that success to Schott's reputation as a technology provider and innovator, saying that the CSPs it provided to a power plant in Spain can deliver energy even 7.5 hours after sunset because they store power.

For more information, visit: www.schott.com

Melinda Rose
melinda.rose@laurin.com


GLOSSARY
photonics
The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
power
With respect to a lens, the reciprocal of its focal length. The term power, as applied to a telescope or microscope, often is used as an abbreviation for magnifying power.
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