The ground-breaking ceremony for the new SCHOTT Solar plant held in March 2008 was attended by the Governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson (4th from left), the President and CEO of SCHOTT North America, Gerald Fine (3rd from right), and other guests of honor.
Photo: SCHOTT/T. Bonanno
Great Location for Solar Valley
The U.S. state of New Mexico is placing its bets on renewable energy. And SCHOTT Solar with its solar manufacturing facility in Albuquerque will play a lead role.
Americans love taking their ambitious visions and turning them into reality with a lot of pragmatism – and the renewable energy market offers the greatest potential for major projects. The state of New Mexico in the southwest of the United States is looking to take the lead in the field of solar energy in the U.S. By sending the message that he plans to turn New Mexico into a “Solar Valley” (see the interview), Governor Bill Richardson has defined the target.
For many people, the Albuquerque airport, also known as “Sunport”, represents their very first contact with this sun-kissed state. The irradiation conditions in New Mexico’s largest city, but also across the entire state, are simply outstanding. The state ranks second in the U.S. in terms of solar potential. And this makes for excellent prerequisites for installing solar power plants on a broad scale, regardless of whether they are based on photovoltaic or solar thermal technology. In 2009, SCHOTT Solar opened up a plant in Albuquerque and now manufactures the core components for both types of plants: solar modules and solar thermal receivers.
Installed PV modules on the plant grounds in Albuquerque. New Mexico is considered to be an ideal solar site, thanks to its qualified employees, excellent infrastructure and commitment to solar power. Photo: SCHOTT/A. Sell
SCHOTT Solar manufactures “Concentrated Solar Power” (CSP) receivers for solar thermal power plants and PV components with a capacity of 85 MW on approx. 18,600 square meters of space. Photo: SCHOTT/T. Bonanno
Excellent location for the solar industry
New Mexico also offers companies who are interested in setting up operations an ideal environment for investments. Enough building land is available at affordable prices and robust transport connections offer important locational advantages. Interstate 25 in Albuquerque runs north-south and crosses Interstate 40 (historic Route 66) which runs east-west. The state is also well linked to the train system and airports. But one shouldn’t forget the “soft factors”, either. Already today, an estimated 150 solar companies are busy creating a climate of innovation in New Mexico.
Politicians have also realized how much potential this holds for the economy, especially Governor Bill Richardson. “SCHOTT Solar is a healthy example of the type of industry New Mexico needs to lead the nation in renewable energy growth,” he said at the beginning of 2010, while announcing the “Green Economy Executive Order”. In this directive, he calls on all of the government agencies to support the establishment of a “Clean Energy State” to the best of their abilities.
Cluster on research and development
New Mexico also offers companies in the solar industry a favorable environment with respect to research and development. The Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratories are two internationally renowned research institutions. Sandia operates the National Solar Thermal Test Facility, where components and systems for solar thermal power plants are developed and tested, in addition to a Center for Photovoltaics that works closely with the industry. New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, located in the south, also has a research center on photovoltaics and other renewable energy sources. By the end of 2010, the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE will be looking to set up a test laboratory on solar modules that will also handle certifications. All in all, a veritable R&D cluster has formed in New Mexico.
A 1.6 MW system, the largest solar installation in New Mexico, is located on top of the Bell Group’s parking lot in Albuquerque. SCHOTT Solar PV, Inc. worked together with local suppliers and installation firms to install around 5,000 solar modules (also see photo above) on four acres of surface area. Photo: SCHOTT/K. Malone
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