SolarWorld to Build 500-MW Solar Factory in Oregon

SolarWorld AG is set to establish an integrated solar silicon wafer and solar cell production facility in Hillsboro, Oregon, that will become the largest solar factory in North America once the plant reaches its projected capacity of 500 megawatts (MW) by 2009.

The Germany-based company will invest an estimated $400 million to expand and develop its new facility, which it recently acquired from the Japanese Komatsu Group for $40 million. The Japanese Komatsu Group had already invested approximately $500 million in the Hillsboro location — but had never gone into production. Following the acquisition, SolarWorld group will shift its solar crystallization activities from Vancouver, Washington, to Hillsboro, Oregon, with production scheduled to begin in the summer of 2007. In the first stage of the expansion, capacities will be enhanced to 100 MW. At the same time, the company will double the capacities of its specialized solar module factory at the Camarillo, California, production site to 100 MW. “The new investment in Oregon constitutes an exceptional opportunity,” said Frank H. Asbeck, Chairman and CEO of SolarWorld AG. The new wafer and cell factory will produce highly efficient, mono-crystalline solar silicon products, expanding SolarWorld’s technological spectrum. The products from the company’s integrated production in Freiberg, Germany, are primarily based on high efficiency multi-crystalline silicon. “The new U.S. production will be designed in line with the latest results of our ongoing inter-group research work,” added Boris Klebensberger, who is responsible for the U.S. activities of the SolarWorld AG group. The State of Oregon will support the recent investments by offering property and business energy tax credits. “This will provide Oregon with a very big economic boost and it highlights a vigorous effort by Oregon to attract businesses from the renewable energy industry,” said Jon Miller, executive director of the Oregon Solar industry. “It’s great news, and hats off to Governor Kulongoski, his staff, and the staff at the Oregon Department of Energy for all the work they’ve done to get another big renewable energy win for the Northwest.” News of the new solar manufacturing plant comes at the same time as several other renewable energy developments in Oregon, including: — Oregon Senator Smith’s co-sponsoring of the Securing America’s Energy Independence Act (S590) which will extend and improve the federal incentives use for solar projects (Investment Tax Credits ITC). — Oregon’s increase to 2 MW for net-metered systems. — A push in the state legislature for 25% renewable energy standard that includes provisions for community renewables such as solar. — A bill increasing the state tax credits for businesses investing in renewable energy projects from $3.5 million to $10 million. — A bill requiring state financed buildings to include 1.5% of the project costs for solar energy installations. — A bill increasing the incentives for residential solar hot water and solar electric systems. “Oregon has provided continuous financial and policy support for solar since 1978. This is just the beginning, and we are absolutely committed to the long-term development of this industry,” said Christopher Dymond, solar program manager for the Oregon Department of Energy.


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