SolFocus, Inc. (SolFocus), a US-based developer of concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) systems, has completed its expanded solar glass reflector manufacturing plant in Mesa, Arizona. Now the plant has increased manufacturing floor space to more than 175% and has a new line of advanced manufacturing equipment. The facility will have the capacity to produce 2 million concentrating reflectors per year for 30 megawatt (MW) of solar power generation over 15 times of its capacity in 2008.
The expanded plant will open on April 23, 2009 with full production anticipated in the second half of 2009. The original plant opened in December 2007 with 50 employees and produced 45,000 mirrors in 2008.
With an expected growth to more than 150 full-time employees by the end of 2009, a 200% increase over 2008, the expansion shows the combined value of local economic development and global investment in sustainable energy. SolFocus is planning to use the 30% manufacturing investment tax credit, as set forth in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). From a demand perspective, ARRA will provide the municipality of Mesa access to funds for investment in solar energy generation technology that will create even more jobs and economic benefit to the city.
The convex mirrors produced at the plant will serve as a main component within the SolFocus CPV system design. As part of a full CPV system, the mirrors reflect the sun’s rays 500 times onto a solar cell that allow the system to generate solar power with panel conversion efficiency levels of 25%.
“Mesa is an example of a town poised to become the living and breathing paradigm of a vibrant green economy,” said Jason Ellsworth, vice president and general manager of the SolFocus Glassworks facility. “In addition to providing green collar jobs in the factory, Mesa is positioned to create additional long-term, high-skilled jobs, through the deployment, operation and maintenance of solar installations, which is expected to create approximately 80-90 working man-years for each megawatt of solar energy put into operation.”
“The 30 MW of product enabled by this factory will allow us to meet the rising demand for CPV technology,” said Mark Crowley, president and chief executive officer of SolFocus. “Government bodies, utilities and large scale commercial operations are quickly recognizing that CPV can deliver three times the efficiency of traditional solar systems with lower land use. With more than $150 billion of stimulus money available for clean energy projects worldwide, competition for available product supply will be tight, so the time to act is now.”
“The swift expansion of this facility not only creates new jobs but pushes Mesa to the forefront of sustainable economic development enabled by the stimulus package,” said Scott Smith, Mayor of Mesa. “We anticipate that this facility will allow Mesa to serve the increasing demand in the U.S. for advanced solar energy technology. The City of Mesa has a tremendous opportunity to showcase an innovative, renewable energy technology, build a long-lasting solar cluster, and be an American Recovery Act success story.”