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SolFocus expands Arizona glassworks factory

24 Apr 2009

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA, 23 April 2009 – SolFocus, the leading developer of Concentrator Photovoltaic (CPV) systems, announced today the completion of its expanded solar glass reflector manufacturing factory in Mesa, Ariz. With over a 175 percent increase in manufacturing floor space and a new line of advanced manufacturing equipment, the SolFocus Glassworks facility will have the capacity to produce 2 million concentrating reflectors annually for 30 MW of solar power generation – over 15 times the plant’s capacity in 2008.

The facility makes the city of Mesa one of the first municipal examples in the U.S. of the "new energy economy" as envisioned by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). With a projected growth to over 150 full-time employees by the end of 2009 – a 200 percent increase over 2008 – the expansion demonstrates the combined value of local economic development and global investment in sustainable energy. As an advanced energy technology producer, SolFocus plans to utilize the 30 percent manufacturing investment tax credit, as set forth in ARRA. From a demand perspective, ARRA provides the municipality of Mesa access to funds for investment in innovative solar energy generation technology, which will create even more jobs and economic benefit to the city.

"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 proprietary, convex mirrors manufactured at the facility serve as a critical 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, which enables the system to produce solar power with industry-leading panel conversion efficiency levels of 25 percent. From an industry perspective, the demand that drove this expansion signals the transition of CPV from the research and development stage to commercialization.

"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."

The expanded factory will open immediately with full production expected in the second half of 2009. The original factory opened in December 2007 with 50 employees and produced 45,000 mirrors in 2008.


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