Renewable Energy Companies Continue Global Expansion

With analysts predicting the explosive growth of renewable energy, particularly solar power, in the next few years and beyond, it’s no surprise that solar and wind companies are announcing new remote offices and new headquarters in other parts of the world.

Whether they are driven to set up a new shop by strong FITs or other important state and local drivers, it’s clear the the global expansion of renewable energy is on the rise.

In Ontario, Canadian Solar announced that it will be setting up shop in Guelph. The facility is expected to be ready by 2010 and the company says that it will be one of the largest solar panel module manufacturing plants in North America, capable of manufacturing 200 megawatts of solar modules a year and employing approximately 500 people in the process.

Canadian Solar currently has its manufacturing operations in China.  The decision to set up a manufacturing facility in Ontario was driven by the feed-in-tariff domestic content requirement set forth by the government of Ontario under the Green Energy and Economy Act.

Arizona’s State Incentives Draw Solar Companies

In Surprise, AZ, CSP component manufacturer Rioglass Solar, a subsidiary of Spain-based Rioglass Solar Holdings, will set up U.S. headquarters that it says will create more than one hundred new jobs through its $50 million capital investment.

Rioglass Solar’s tempered glass reflectors will be deployed at Abengoa Solar’s Solana Generating Station, to be constructed near Gila Bend.  Rioglass says that it is in negotiations to supply reflectors for several other solar projects under development in the United States.

Rioglass Solar received $10.6 million in federal tax credits to locate its mirror manufacturing facility in Surprise. In addition, Surprise will waive $290,000 in review and public infrastructure fees; invest $865,000 in public infrastructure including rail and electricity upgrades needed to serve the solar facility and will provide the company with project office space at the city’s business incubator, the AZ TechCelerator.  

This is the 5th solar energy company to set up operations in Greater Phoenix under the state’s new Renewable Energy Tax Incentive Program, which was launched in January 2010.

Boston-based Photon Consulting delves deeper into the global expansion of solar energy in its new report: Solar Annual 2010 Part One: Place Your Bets.   The report predicts 17.2GW of new PV system installations in 2010 alone, which is a 104% year over year growth.

“As the solar sector grows and increases in complexity, it is also becoming increasingly exposed to major shifts in capital market conditions, energy technology evolution and incentive policies in key markets,” says Mark Farber, PHOTON Consulting consultant and co-author of the report. 

Wind Companies On the Move, Too

Across the world in South Africa, independent renewable energy group, Wind Prospect, announced that it will open a new office in South Africa with the goal of becoming a key element in the developing African wind market by 2012.

Since the company launched its Developer Service business in 2009, Wind Prospect has opened offices in emerging markets across Europe including most recently Turkey and Poland. The African office will open in Cape Town in October and will provide wind resource assessment, due diligence and development support services to developers, banks and financial institutions across the continent, according to the company.  The company says that it is already working on 11 contracts across Kenya and South Africa, representing 1.3 GW of potential capacity. 

Following the opening of the African office, Wind Prospect will have offices in 10 countries around the world: Australia, Canada, China, France, Ireland, Poland, South Africa, Turkey, UK, USA.

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Jennifer Runyon has been studying and reporting about the world's transition to clean energy since 2007. As editor of the world's largest renewable energy publication, Renewable Energy World, she observed, interviewed experts about, and reported on major clean energy milestones including Germany's explosive growth of solar PV, the formation and development of the U.S. onshore wind industry, the U.K. offshore wind boom, China's solar manufacturing dominance, the rise of energy storage, the changing landscape for utilities and grid operators and much, much, more. Today, in addition to managing content on POWERGRID International, she also serves as the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH, a globally recognized conference for the transmission and distribution industry. You can reach her at

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