SCHOTT solutions no. 1/2009 > Solar Technology

The new combined solar production facility in New Mexico/U.S.A. is geared to support sustain-able growth and kicked off with phase one by creating around 350 new jobs. Photo: SCHOTT/A. Sell

Sunny Prospects

The new SCHOTT Solar manufacturing facility in Albuquerque will be the first site in the United States that produces receivers for CSP and will quadruple the company’s PV production capacity in North America.

Brelyn Johnson

In May of this year, SCHOTT Solar opened a new plant just south of New Mexico’s largest city, Albuquerque. It will manufacture receivers for so-called “Concentrated Solar Power” or csp plants and pv modules with around 85 megawatts of capacity.

Here, in the nation’s Southwest, renewable energy is currently experiencing a boom. With this initial investment of over 100 million dollars, SCHOTT Solar will be strengthening its leading position in the growing market for centralized and decentralized energy in the United States. The new site will employ around 350 workers in the first phase.

The outlook for the future calls for 1,500 employees, once the facility reaches full capacity. “Awareness of the need to invest in renewable technologies continues to grow in the United States. Thanks to the fact that President Obama supports this, the new SCHOTT Solar facility will help America achieve its goal of energy independence,” says Prof. Dr.-Ing. Udo Ungeheuer, Chairman of the Board of Management of SCHOTT AG.

The recommendations of the Obama Administration on an environmentally friendly energy policy have pushed renewable energy production to the top of the national priority list. The U.S. Federal government is now offering manufacturers financial incentives.

For instance, they can receive loans for renewable energy projects or fund solar installations on federal buildings. To further encourage production of utility-scale facilities, the government has proposed easing land restrictions for renewable energy production.

“America is well positioned to be a leader in solar energy, thanks to its generous solar resources and commitment to develop domestic renewable energy production,” explains Dr. Martin Heming, CEO of SCHOTT Solar. “We are seeing indications that the sleeping giant is ready to wake up,” he adds.
Convinced of the huge potential of solar power in the u.s. (left to right): Prof. Dr.-Ing. Udo Ungeheuer, Chairman of the Board of Management of SCHOTT ag, Bill Richardson, Governor of New Mexico, Dr. Gerald Fine, President and ceo SCHOTT North America, and Dr. Martin Heming, ceo of SCHOTT Solar. Photo: SCHOTT/A. Sell

PV fits the U.S. well

SCHOTT Poly® 225, the newest addition in the SCHOTT Solar portfolio, will be the first module to be manufactured at the Albuquerque facility. The module offers high-performance output over its entire lifetime. All modules offered by SCHOTT Solar are subject to quality control requirements that exceed industry standard test criteria.

The decision to manufacture a 225 watt PV module in the United States is a result of direct feedback from customers and market analysis. Each year, approximately 70 megawatts of pv capacity will be added to the existing capacity SCHOTT Solar has in Albuquerque, if the market continues to develop as forecast. The site in Albuquerque will be joining the group’s existing CSP receiver production facilities in Mitterteich, Germany, and Seville, Spain. SCHOTT Solar is a recognized leader in CSP technology and its receivers have already been successfully deployed in Acciona Energy’s Nevada Solar One power plant located just outside Las Vegas, the APS Saguaro Solar Power generating facility and the SEGS plants in the Mojave Desert.

CSP technology represents one of the most efficient ways to harness the greatest natural resource in the desert southwest of the United States, the sun. States like New Mexico are already actively working on developing plants for generating solar energy inside the state and exporting it to neighboring regions.

To achieve this goal, the U.S. Government has created subsidies to develop a “smart energy transmission grid.” This new smart-grid will be able to compensate for intermittent energy production, as is common with wind and solar energy, and transfer the energy to areas with the greatest demand.

Bright future

The manufacturing facility in Albuquerque will help meet the growing demand for renewable energy in the United States. Depending on market conditions, the facility could eventually quadruple in size to around 800,000 square feet.

“The leaders in New Mexico recognized solar energy as a future oriented industry and are seeking to attract companies to settle here,” says Dr. Gerald Fine, President and CEO of SCHOTT North America. “Today, they are seeing their hard work pay off, because SCHOTT Solar employs hundreds of people from New Mexico here and offers the region secure, high-quality jobs.”

Even despite the economic crisis, economists project that the U.S. solar industry will continue to gain momentum, thanks in large part to the increased focus on energy policy from the Obama Administration. According to a recent poll, 94 percent of Americans say it’s important for the U.S. to use solar energy. Almost 80 percent of respondents feel the Federal Government should make development of solar energy a major priority. <|
Solar components in pairs: Both SCHOTT Poly® photovoltaic modules (on left) and extremely efficient receivers for solar thermal power plants (on right) are manufactured in Albuquerque. Photos: SCHOTT/A. Sell