SoloPower eyes Wilsonville for manufacturing plant
By Erik Siemers , Business Journal Staff Writer
Business Journal Staff Writer
For the second time in a year, a California thin-film solar energy company is seeking a massive state loan to build a manufacturing plant in the Portland region.
This time around, San Jose-based SoloPower Inc. is asking for $20 million through the State Energy Loan Program for a 75-megawatt capacity plant in Wilsonville. The news was disclosed Tuesday by the Oregon Department of Energy. The State Energy Loan Program Advisory Committee will review the application Jan. 13.
Earlier this year, the state Department of Energy approved a $25 million loan — its largest ever — to San Jose-based Solexant Inc., which in July unveiled plans for a $200 million, 100-megawatt plant in Gresham that would initially employ 100. The company said at full build-out the plant could reach 1 gigawatt of annual production and employ 1,000.
It's unclear how many jobs would be produced by SoloPower’s proposed project.
Last February, the company raised $44.9 million in debt financing and at the time was trying to raise another $100 million to match a possible $200 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy, according to the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal.
If successful, the company was hoping to put that capital toward an expansion of its existing San Jose manufacturing operation and finance construction of a new factory that was expected to create 500 permanent jobs, the newspaper reported.
SoloPower — which in 2008 alone raised $230 million from investors — makes thin-film solar energy cells and modules using Copper-Indium-Gallium-Selenide technology.
Thin-film solar technology differs from the more traditional polysilicon crystal technology used by manufacturers like SolarWorld, whose U.S. headquarters are in Hillsboro. Instead of producing wafers from silicon that then go into solar panels, the energy producing material is produced on thin film that can then be layered onto glass or other surfaces.
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