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Schott Solar opens in Albuquerque

Photonics Spectra
Jul 2009
Melinda Rose, melinda.rose@laurin.com

ALBUQUERQUE,N.M. – Schott Solar, the first facility in the world to produce both concentrated solar power receivers and photovoltaic (PV) modules, was inaugurated May 11 in Albuquerque. The company’s flagship North American plant represents the first solar manufacturing facility to open after the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was signed into law in February.

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 Dineh Tah Navajo Dancers.

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New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (left) and Dr. Udo Ungeheuer of Schott AG sign the first CSP receiver to roll off the assembly line at the new Albuquerque plant. (Photos: Melinda Rose, Photonics Media)

“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.

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

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Schott Solar’s PV modules.

“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.

Schott Solar in Albuquerque begins with two CSP receiver lines, with a capacity of 400 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 make them well-suited to applications such as commercial buildings and schools, the company said.

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 that he wants to double the nation’s renewable energy portfolio in three years.


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