A major solar energy company in the United States reports that its sale of solar products last year was up more than 50 percent over 1999.
BEDFORD, Massachusetts, US, 2001-04-03 <SolarAccess.com> Spire Corporation says its revenue from its solar energy division in 2000 was $5.9 million, an increase of 53 percent from the $3.8 million in the prior year. Total revenue for the company last year was $12.8 million, but its optoelectronics division had lower revenue. “The year 2000 was a transition year for Spire in which we focused on becoming a pure solar energy company by restructuring our biomedical business as a separate operating entity and phasing out of our optoelectronics activities,” says president and CEO Roger Little. “Supported by a rapidly growing demand for solar power, our solar energy business gained momentum during the year.” That revenue includes increased sales of module manufacturing equipment to major producers of solar electric modules and the delivery of a complete turnkey production line to BP Malaysia. Last year, the Massachusetts company started shipping PV systems from its Spire Solar Chicago operation, where they are assembled and installed on schools and public buildings under contract with the City of Chicago and the ComEd utility. Spire has teamed with ComEd, the City and the State of Illinois to convert an environmental brownfield on Chicago’s south side into a Solar Brightfield that will consist of a 500 kW solar electric system. Spire and Spire Solar Chicago have invested in new personnel for that venture, and Little says the investment is restraining profitability. “We are optimistic that the Spire Solar Chicago model can be replicated in a number of cities across the U.S.,” he explains. “As a result, we are pursuing a ‘utility’ business strategy, whereby we will establish small factories to provide solar electric systems to utilities and municipalities for a range of distributed power applications.” Under deregulation, many utilities have strong incentives to invest in renewable energy as a means of supplementing older, fossil-fuel-based generating stations, he adds. “Recent events in California make the case for greater utilization of solar and other renewable energy sources more compelling,” explains Little. “We believe that our approach of manufacturing PV systems locally will stimulate demand for solar electric power and open up new commercial and residential markets.” Spire Biomedical was formed as a subsidiary but was changed to a separate business unit to pursue its own growth path. Spire claims to be the world’s leading supplier of solar electric module manufacturing equipment, turnkey production lines, and solar energy businesses.