SolFocus Expands Glassworks Factory in Arizona

SolFocus announced the completion of its expanded solar glass reflector manufacturing factory in Mesa, Arizona. With a 175 percent increase in manufacturing floor space and a new line of manufacturing equipment, the SolFocus Glassworks facility will have the capacity to produce 2 million concentrating reflectors annually. The mirrors represent close to 30 megawatts (MW) of the company’s concentrating photovoltaics (CPV) solar system, more than 15 times the plant’s capacity in 2008.

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. With a projected growth to more than 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, the company said.

“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.

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