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MiaSole, a manufacturer of Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS) thin-film solar panels, is said to be planning to build a 500,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Griffin, Ga.
Santa Clara, Calif.-based MiaSolé will initially employ about 250 at the plant but would probably ramp up to nearly 1,000 employees. The 500,000-square-foot plant could be one of the largest solar factories in the United States,
While Georgia is hardly a hot spot for the solar industry, the MiaSolé deal helps prove the state can compete for such investment. The company is said to have considered at least a dozen states for the plant. While Georgia is often a target destination for corporations looking for corporate relocations Georgia has not yet taken advantage of opportunities to attract players in the solar and renewable energy fields.
A southern California start-up founded by Bill Gross (the founder of Idealab) is the first company of its size to land a major solar deal in China.
Bill Gross’ eSolar recently announced that it had inked a deal with China Shandong Penglai Electric Power Equipment Manufacturing Co. to build a 2,000 MW solar thermal farm in China. (Unlike photovoltaic solar, thermal solar uses mirrors to collect sun that heats water, generating steam for electrical power).
In an interview in 2009 eSolar’s founder said that he expected to be able to install solar thermal farms at a cost per watt between $2.50 and $3.00. Once operational, solar thermal farms should be able to produce electrical power at a cost of roughly $0.10 per kWh, a rate that is attractive compared to other types of electrical generation.
The company values the deal at nearly $5 billion, so it if moves forward, eSolar will find itself in the small but happy club of renewable energy companies that are generating meaningful profits.