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A Site Selection Web Exclusive, October 2011
WEB Exclusive story

ooking for clean-tech employment evidence to get the taste of Solyndra out of your system? We're happy to oblige:

Earlier this week, Hailo USA, a division of the Haiger, Germany-based Hailo GmbH & Co.KG, said it would open a headquarters and a wind turbine component manufacturing facility in Elberton, Ga., where it will make climbing and service lift systems, platforms, railings, shieldings, doors and other mechanical components for wind turbine towers. The company will invest $10 million and create 200 new jobs over five years

Last week, San Diego-based ultracapacitor maker Maxwell Technologies said it would create up to 200 jobs with a $26-million investment at Mack Arrowhead Commerce Park in the Phoenix suburb of Peoria. The energy storage devices Maxwell makes are currently being used in such applications as wind turbines, hybrid and electric transit vehicles, and uninterruptible power supply systems, and have seen sales increase by 50 percent annually over the past four years. Among the attractants to Arizona was the Renewable Energy Tax Incentive Program enacted in 2010. The Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) says the metro area has seen nearly a dozen renewable energy companies move or expand to the region since the law was enacted. "All told," said GPEC, "the region's renewable energy cluster has spurred nearly $2 billion in private investments and more than 6,000 jobs."

Earlier this month in Kentucky, Hitachi Automotive Systems Americas Inc. announce it had selected its Mercer County plant in Harrodsburg, just outside Lexington, as the site of its North American lithium-ion battery packs production. The expansion means 60 new jobs and $12 million in new investment.Hitachi, which has existing locations in Harrodsburg and Berea, just completed construction of its new 153,000-square-foot factory on its existing 85-acre Harrodsburg site. The expansion project, which was announced in 2010, is creating 145 new jobs in Harrodsburg and entails an investment of $68 million. The plant produces sophisticated automotive electronics. With this latest expansion, the plant will also produce the battery control electronics, which will be installed as part of the battery pack assembly.

"Hitachi is one of the few automotive suppliers with the capability to develop and produce our own lithium-ion batteries, electric drive motors and the electronic controls needed to manage electric powered automobiles," said Hitachi Automotive Systems Americas President Mark Fujisawa. "The North American production of these hybrid electric vehicle batteries complements our North American production of hybrid vehicle motors, which we announced last month."

Purdue doctoral students Dan Van Alstine and Karla Stricker work on a diesel-engine test platform at the Ray W. Herrick Laboratories. The work is related to a new effort aimed at cutting fuel consumption in half for commercial vehicles by perfecting hybrid technologies for the world's burgeoning bus and truck fleets. The new Hoosier Heavy Hybrid Center of Excellence is funded with a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy's Graduate Automotive Technology Education initiative.
Purdue University photo/Mark Simons

Just to the northwest in West Lafayette, Ind., Purdue University will lead the new Hoosier Heavy Hybrid Center of Excellence (H3CoE), funded with a $1-million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy's Graduate Automotive Technology Education initiative. The project, which falls under the umbrella of the Purdue Energy Center Advanced Ground Vehicle Power and Energy Storage initiatives, seeks to achieve a 50-percent reduction in commercial vehicle fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Commercial vehicles consume far more fuel on a per vehicle basis than passenger cars, averaging 6.2 mpg and 74,000 miles per year, compared to 21.1 mpg and between 10,000 and 12,000 miles per year for light-duty automotive vehicles. The work at H3CoE will include industrial partners Cummins Inc., Delphi Automotive LLP, Ener1 Inc., Allison Transmission Inc. and the Energy Systems Network, an initiative of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership focusing on clean-energy technologies in Indiana.

GloPak Corp., a full-service plastics manufacturer of industrial and recyclable custom garbage bags, film and liners for restaurants, hotels, hospitals and consumers markets, earlier this month opened its new 80,000-sq.-ft. Facility and corporate headquarters in South Plainfield, N.J., which uses a 500+-kilowatt rooftop solar system (pictured) and a three-acre solar energy field adjacent to the plant to help power the facility. The energy-efficiency effort of implementing solar technology is expected to save more than $90,000 in energy costs each year. The plant maintains a staff of over 20 full-time employees, and with the overall savings on energy, GloPak Corp. plans to hire additional workforce from the South Plainfield area within the next 18 months. "GloPak's CO2 emission will be reduced by 690 metric tons of carbon dioxide every year," said GloPak CEO Harold Martin Sr. "These efforts have improved core manufacturing processes without compromising product quality."

On Oct. 17 the National Solar Jobs Census 2011 was issued by the Dallas-based Solar Foundation. As of August 2011, the National Solar Jobs Census 2011 identified more than 17,198 solar employment sites and 100,237 solar jobs in all 50 states. "The solar industry's job growth rate of 6.8 percent is significantly higher than the 2-percent net job loss in fossil fuel power generation and the economy-wide expectation of 0.7 percent growth over the same period," said the Foundation. Below are the top states in estimated solar employment, along with their numbers of solar establishments:

1. California 25,575 3,550
2. Colorado 6,186 1,02
3. Arizona 4,786 980
4. Pennsylvania 4,703 750
5. New York 4,279 840
6. Florida 4,224 825
7. Texas 3,346 665
8. Oregon 3,346 545
9. New Jersey 2,871 480
10. Massachusetts 2,395 410

An artist’s rendering shows the site of GE’s new solar plant being built in Colorado.

Among the projects celebrated by the Solar Foundation in its report release was the Oct. 13 announcement by GE that it had selected an existing building in Aurora, Colo., just east of Denver, for a new CdTe thin-film solar module plant. The new plant will have a production capacity of 400 MW. "This location, which also is in proximity to GE's existing solar center of excellence, enables an accelerated start-up schedule with production equipment installation beginning in January 2012," said the company.

"Working with our Colorado-based solar team, we were able to achieve record efficiencies in our solar panels in record time," said Victor Abate, vice president of GE's Renewable Energy business. "The Colorado location will allow us to deliver our technology roadmap faster and commercialize industry-leading panel efficiencies sooner. We also look forward to continuing to build our relationships with Colorado's local, state and federal officials who have been extremely helpful as we moved through the site selection process."

GE also announced plans that same day to create 100 new positions in New York. "We plan to add 100 high-tech jobs between our Renewable Energy Global Headquarters in Schenectady and GE's Global Research Center in Niskayuna," Abate said. "The Cuomo administration has demonstrated a change in business culture in New York state. New York is well positioned to continue to be part of GE's solar business growth."

Thin Films
GE's thin film panels are seen here being manufactured at the company's existing plant in Colorado. The new plant will use similar techniques.

Biomass pellet make Enviva, whose facility projects were chronicled in this publication earlier this year, has signed a contract with Dominion Virginia Power to supply biomass to two Dominion power generation plants in Southampton and Hopewell, Va. In April, Dominion announced plans to convert three 63-megawatt coal burning peaking plants to 50-megawatt continuous power plants using biomass. Dominion's application to convert the power stations is pending before the Virginia State Corporation Commission. Already a leading supplier to European utilities, Enviva saluted Dominion's decision to be among the first utilities in the U.S. to commit to biomass.

This fall, Enviva's flagship wood pellet plant in Ahoskie, N.C., will commence operations, producing up to 400,000 metric tons of wood pellets per year. In August, the company also announced plans to develop a second wood pellet facility in nearby Northampton County and a strategic partnership with Biomass Energy to operate its Bumpass, Va.-based wood chip and pellet manufacturing facility. Wood pellets from these facilities ship out of the company's deepwater port facility in Chesapeake, Va. Enviva also operates two wood pellet facilities in Mississippi. The company's total annual production capacity will reach 750,000 metric tons by the end of 2011.

Dominion doesn't hold sway over all biomass, however. In New Hampshire, Portsmouth-based Cate Street Capital worked with Prudential Capital Group to secure an investment grade rating and a financing package of $275 million to build Berlin Station, a 75-MW facility that will sell energy, capacity and Class I Renewable Energy Credits to Public Service Company of New Hampshire under a 20-year power purchase agreement. The project has all required permits and approvals to begin construction and is expected to generate power by late 2013. It will create approximately four hundred construction jobs and forty permanent jobs at a site on the Androscoggin River in downtown Berlin on property that was formerly part of the Fraser Papers pulp mill that closed in 2006. "The plant will burn approximately 750,000 tons of low-grade wood per year, supporting several hundred jobs for foresters, loggers and chippers," said a release from Cate Street Capital. Berlin Station is estimated to inject approximately $25 million annually into New Hampshire's North Country economy.

Prudential Capital Group, a global provider of private capital, through its Electric Finance Group, was the lead lender providing senior secured debt to the project. "Completing project finance, especially of this size, that incorporates New Markets Tax Credits ("NMTC"), Section 1603 Grant in Lieu of Investment Tax Credits, and Senior Debt is not an easy undertaking," said Cate Street Capital President and CEO John Hallé, "and Prudential assisted and guided everyone involved in successfully navigating its complexity."

During the groundbreaking ceremony, SMUD General Manager & CEO John DiStasio describes the renewable and energy efficiency features that will earn the new campus the U.S. Green Building Council’s highest honor: LEED Platinum.

Nonprofits and the public sector are also getting in on the expansion trend. The Palo Alto, Calif-based Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) has purchased 108,000 square feet of office and lab space on 24 acres adjacent to its research facility at University Research Park in Charlotte, N.CEPRI purchased the facility from Paragon Media LLC, with plans to expand its laboratory space by 15,000 square feet and provide space for local workforce growth over the next five years. . With this addition, EPRI will own 258,000 square feet of office and research facilities on 45 acres. 

Back in California's state capital, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) officially started construction on the nation's first field operations center to earn LEED Platinum certification. The project will also be the second "net zero" undertaking in North America. By incorporating the latest energy efficiency features as well as some tried and true technologies, the energy consumption of the 51-acre campus will be greatly minimized. "The net zero designation will come from incorporating technologies such as a 5-acre geothermal heat pump system and a 1.1 megawatt tracking photovoltaic system allowing the campus to generate as much power on the site as it consumes," said a SMUD release. "The project also brings 300 much needed construction jobs to Sacramento County."

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