Volume 44, Issue 6 - June 2009

Solar Watch

company news
Schott Solar Inaugurates Flagship Manufacturing Facility in New Mexico

Schott Solar inaugurated its Albuquerque, N.M., manufacturing facility for products used to generate solar power on May 11, one year after breaking ground on the project’s first phase. The 200,000-square-foot facility represents an initial investment of more than $100 million. 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. 

The new site is designed to support expansion of both Schott’s photovoltaic (PV) 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. 

For the first phase, the Albuquerque facility will have an annual capacity of up to 85 megawatts (MW) of PV 225 watt polycrystalline modules, sold under the name Schott Solar Poly 225. In addition to manufacturing PV, the Albuquerque facility is the first in the U.S. to produce receivers used in parabolic trough, utility-scale, concentrated solar power (CSP) plants. Initially, the two production lines will produce enough receivers to meet the demands of up to 400 MW CSP power plants per year. 

Prototypes of next generation receivers were unveiled during the inauguration ceremony. The new receivers offer new dimensions and can accommodate alternative heat transfer fluids. 

New Giroux Glass Facility Uses Solar Power
 Los Angeles-based glazing contractor Giroux Glass has opened a new fabrication facility in San Bernardino, Calif., and has decided to go green through solar power. 

At the end of last year the company purchased a 40,000-square-foot warehouse in San Bernardino to use as the new fabrication center for the company’s custom and unitized curtainwall and storefront projects coming out of the Los Angeles headquarters, approximately 60 miles away. The facility also will assist in fabrication for some projects based out of the Las Vegas office. 

With the purchase of a great deal of new fabrication equipment, the building has been retrofitted so that the equipment runs off of solar energy. 

“I was signing some checks here for our utilities here at our facility in Los Angeles and was surprised at how high those bills have been,” recalls vice president Robert Burkhammer. “I knew out in San Bernardino, with our new machines, the price of energy was going to go up so I talked about it [with colleagues] and said why don’t we look at using solar cells?” 

Burkhammer already says, “It was a good move.”

Solar Integrated Technologies in Los Angeles provided the facility with its building integrated photovoltaic (PV) roofing product. With this addition, Burkhammer notes, “We’re the very first commercial building to have solar power in San Bernardino City.”

  In addition to the PV system, the company is going green in a number of other ways, including a recycling program for cardboard and aluminum waste. The company also has invested in three Smart Cars during the past few months to assist in conserving fuel use. Through the facility’s location within an enterprise zone, and with the assistance of union local #636, monetary incentives are offered to employees that choose to carpool or bike to work. 

Arch and Konarka Develop BIPV Products
Architectural glass fabricator Arch Aluminum and Glass in Tamarac, Fla., and Konarka Technologies Inc., a solar plastic film producer based in New Bedford, Mass., have entered into a joint development agreement under which the companies will explore development of a complete line of semi-transparent, glass building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) products called Active Solar Glass® (ASG).

Using Konarka’s semi-transparent Power Plastic®, ASG will come in a range of colors that will give architects and designers the ability to make every glass surface in a building a solar power plant. ASG will also incorporate other passive solar technologies, such as low-E coatings, that will result in the industry’s most energy-efficient line of window, skylights and curtainwalls.

“Until today, aesthetic and performance concerns limited the ability of architects to use BIPV technology in their designs,” says Leon Silverstein, chief executive officer of Arch. “[This] announcement is about the creation of a new product category, one that had been unavailable until now. It is energy-efficient and transparent, with superior vertical performance and a subtle red, blue or green aesthetic. With these features, BIPV will no longer need to be confined to spandrel or overhead applications. An entire building can be put to use, producing its own power, and looking good doing so.”

With the ability to collect energy at up to 70 percent off-axis, ASG can harvest energy from nearly sunrise to sunset, and can even be used on vertical surfaces. The Konarka film is also bifacial, so ASG can harness energy from both indoor and outdoor light.

Konarka’s Power Plastic® was designed using a proprietary polymer-based, organic PV technology that is free of hazardous materials.


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