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September 25, 2012

With DOE Loan Guarantee and State Incentives, SoloPower Start-Up Won't Go it Alone



SoloPower, a start-up solar manufacturer based in Silicon Valley, will begin production on September 27, with the support of a $197 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy (DOE)—granted in August under the auspices of the same program that drove House Republicans to create the “No More Solyndras Act.”

However, that piece of legislation, which detonated Democratic fireworks and fury, met its expected demise in the U.S. Senate this week. The DOE loan guarantee will back the construction and operation of three facilities in Portland, Oregon, that are expected to produce approximately 400 megawatts (MW) of state-of-the art thin film photovoltaic modules annually—as well as 450 full-time jobs, 270 construction positions, and several hundred additional supply chain jobs.

According to “The Oregonian,” Portland officials wooed SoloPower with their own incentive package, worth $17.9 million and the State of Oregon offered the company a state loan and tax credit worth $40 million.

 “SoloPower is bringing exactly the kind of new jobs Oregon needs,” stated Governor John Kitzhaber. “Working with SoloPower to bring their manufacturing headquarters to Portland, we are continuing on the path of supporting a strong clean technology manufacturing base in Oregon.”

SoloPower—which is targeting the commercial and industrial flat-roof market— uses innovative manufacturing technology to produce low-cost, high efficiency copper, indium, gallium and (di)selenide (CIGS)-based photovoltaic cells. The CIGS cells are packaged into unique, flexible, lightweight solar modules. The modules require less balance-of-system hardware and are easier to install than traditional solar panels. What’s more, the modules offer greater efficiency—10-12 percent— than most of the competitive equipment currently on the market.

 “SoloPower’s world-class technology team is constantly pushing the envelope, and our innovations will continue to help us make rooftop solar the primary energy source for the world’s commercial and industrial buildings,” said Tim Harris, CEO, SoloPower. “With our integrated installation systems, our solar solutions are optimized for commercial and industrial rooftops, producing maximum power in a constrained space and offering excellent total installed costs. We’re excited as we prepare to open our high-volume manufacturing facility in Portland, Oregon, which will enable us to meet the strong demand we’re seeing from our customers around the world.”

“This loan guarantee from the DOE is the kind of job-creating investment this country needs,” said U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR). “Companies that push the boundaries of known technology will reinvigorate America’s economy and provide much-needed family wage jobs for Oregonians, now and in the future.”

“Solar manufacturing represents one of the best ways to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and, with SoloPower poised to make a massive investment in Oregon’s already impressive alternative energy technology industry, it is clearer than ever that Oregon continues to be a ‘go-to’ state for innovation,” the Senator added.

Construction on the first high-volume facility in Portland, Oregon is anticipated to start in October. " We’re excited about SoloPower’s ability to bring cleantech jobs to Oregon and promote smart job growth in the private sector, which would not have been possible without the visionary support we’ve received from the State of Oregon, the Oregon Department of Energy and the City of Portland, as well as the U.S. Department of Energy,” said Harris. “A big reason SoloPower chose to build our new manufacturing facility in Oregon was because of the highly skilled work force, and we look forward to drawing on that local talent as our facility comes online.”

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Edited by Brooke Neuman

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