Solar energy continues to provide investments and jobs in the Southeast

Guest Blog | January 19, 2011 | Energy Policy

Stion's thin film solar panel
Stion’s thin-film solar panels will be manufactured at a new facility in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

Solar energy is fast becoming an economic driver in a location that may surprise some people: the Southeast. The most recent developments include two thin film solar cell manufacturing facilities to be located in Mississippi and South Carolina, the beginning of construction of a silicon solar cell manufacturing facility in Tennessee, and the announcement of a solar farm to be installed at a former landfill in Georgia. All of these investments could bring around 5,000 jobs to the southeast by 2013.

In the past week, two large American thin film solar manufacturing companies have announced investments in the Southeast. Stion, headquartered in San Jose, CA, is opening a production facility in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and AQT Solar, based in Sunnyvale, CA, announced its plans for a solar factory in Blythewood, South Carolina. Combine these investments with the solar manufacturing investments made in Tennessee over the past couple years, and its clear that the solar industry is quickly becoming a significant driver of economic growth in the Southeast. Both Stion and AQT Solar make copper indium gallium selenide (or CIGS) thin-film photovoltaic cells. Thin-film is not yet as efficient as standard crystalline silicon solar cells, but they can be substantially cheaper and perform better in shading or cloudy days. Also, this thin flexible material is low-profile and allows for a broader range of applications.

AQT Solar in South Carolina, via Business Wire
AQT Solar in South Carolina. Source: Business Wire