Tag Archives: rioglass solar

GPEC - AZ Business Magazine January/February 2012

GPEC Leads Cooperative Effort To Draw More ‘Clean Tech’ Industry To Arizona

Insight into innovation: GPEC leads cooperative effort to draw more ‘clean tech’ industry to Arizona

Green technology is still a relatively small part of Arizona’s economy, but its potential for growth is a bright spot on the state’s horizon.

“At a time when other economic engines have been sputtering, anticipated green job growth among Arizona’s green economy firms is quite promising,” say authors of a report prepared for state economic development officials by The Council for Community and Economic Research. It is one of two recent reports that assesses the industry and its growth potential.

While there is no standard definition of “green tech” or “clean tech,” it has been described by Clean Edge, a clean-tech research firm, as “a diverse range of products, services, and processes that harness renewable materials and energy sources, dramatically reduce the use of natural resources, and cut or eliminate emissions and wastes.” So even defining “green tech” or “clean tech” can be difficult, The Council for Community and Economic Research acknowledges.

That is why the Greater Phoenix Economic Council ( GPEC ) is embarking on a 12- to 18-month study to better define Arizona’s clean tech sector, says its president and CEO Barry Broome.

It’s a big undertaking, Broome says, but an important one given the impact that clean tech, particularly renewable energy, will likely play in driving the state’s future economy.

In fact, Broome predicts that renewable energy — particularly solar energy companies and the extensive supply chains that grow up around them, as well as companies that produce energy-efficient technologies — will become major players in Arizona in the future.

“It’s going to be our biggest industry outside of healthcare,” he says. “In 10 years, 100 percent (of homes built in Arizona) will be solarized at some level.”

That economy includes not just traditional solar manufacturers, but also materials producers — companies that make smart meters, water-use monitors and biodegradable drywall, for example.

The numbers

Overall, Arizona was home to 30,716 green jobs in 2010, about 1.3 percent of total statewide employment, according to the research report, titled “Green Jobs in Arizona 2010.”

But it says green jobs were expected to grow at a healthy 8.6 percent clip in 2011, outpacing the projected rate of 0.7 percent for all other jobs.

A second report by Battelle, a non-profit research organization, parallels the assessment that the green economy in Arizona is still emerging, but can expect strong future growth, particularly in renewable energy, greenhouse gas reduction and energy-efficiency sectors.

One key factor in this growth is a state leadership that creates a business climate that promotes innovation, the report says.

Faces behind the numbers

If you want to put a name to those numbers, turn to Greg Armstrong, chief operation officer for Rioglass Solar, a Spanish company that makes tempered glass reflectors and is the primary manufacturer for Abengoa Solar, which is building a 280-megawat solar power plant near Gila Bend.

Rioglass placed its U.S. headquarters and manufacturing operation in Surprise and plans another $45 million in capital investments.

The company was considering sites in Denver, Albuquerque and even Mexico when it visited the Surprise location, Armstrong says. The method GPEC used to draw Rioglass Solar to Arizona is a good example of what the state needs to continue to do to lure renewable energy companies, he says.

GPEC organized a meeting on site, in a tent, that brought together all the principal players in the effort: state officials, Surprise representatives, utility employees and economic development officials.

That was a first for Rioglass, Armstrong says, and an indication of what came next:  Surprise waived some fees involved in the expensive process of siting the plant, invested in infrastructure upgrades and created an expedited permit package that enabled Rioglass to break ground in January and take occupancy by July.

For more information about GPEC, visit gpec.org.

Arizona Business Magazine January/February 2012

 

First Solar, Mesa

First Solar To Open Manufacturing Plant In Mesa

First Solar is moving to Mesa after consolidating its Vietnam manufacturing plant. The First Solar manufacturing plant will bring approximately 1,200 jobs to Mesa. The plant is currently in its construction phase and the estimated completion for the manufacturing plant’s first phase will be in the third quarter of 2012.

First Solar’s Reciprocal Benefits For Company and Community

Greater Phoenix Economic Council president and CEO Barry Broome is excited to bring another big name in solar technology and manufacturing to the Valley.

“The Greater Phoenix region is in a prime position to capitalize on this momentum,” Broome says. “Already home to First Solar’s headquarters in addition to its Mesa manufacturing facility, the region is also home to nearly one dozen solar and renewable energy or clean technology companies such as Suntech Power Holdings, Power-One, Gestamp Solar Steel, Rioglass Solar, Clear Energy, Maxwell Technologies and hundreds more within their supply chains.”

The United States Southwest holds the largest global manufacturing opportunity for solar, clean and renewable technologies. Broome says that First Solar’s choice to manufacture in Mesa will not only be beneficial for the company by being able to take advantage of renewable and sustainable tax credit program, but for the Arizona economy by creating solar technology careers.

University and community college students in the Valley will have an advantage for finding careers in solar technology and engineering when they complete their programs.

“Greater Phoenix turns out superb engineering talent through its universities and technical talent through its community college system,” Broome says. “Mesa was selected over Vietnam because of the [full pallet of renewable resources] that are produced in the East Valley, the leadership of the Mayor of Mesa, Scott Smith and the opportunity that has been built around the U.S. market.”

One advantage for First Solar manufacturing in the United States is the increase for efficiency and that of supply chains in relation to other parts of the country.

“Here in Arizona we have the chance to be an international leader in very important technology,” Broome says. “First Solar, Suntech and all these companies are a clear sign that [solar] is the technology of the future and we have to be strong and focused on this success.

“As illustrated today by First Solar’s decision to embrace Mesa over a low-cost overseas market, we can and will dominate the solar renewable energy and clean technology market.”