August 30, 2012
$20M for next solar cell win
By: Larry Rulison
Source: Times Union
Project promises 250 jobs, new technology in competitive field
SAUGERTIES — The University at Albany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering is working with a Saugerties company called Ceres Technologies on a $20 million project to develop the next generation of solar cell manufacturing equipment.
The deal, expected to create 250 jobs, represents a key milestone for the U.S. Photovoltaic Manufacturing Consortium in its goal to develop thin-film solar cells that can compete with traditional electrical generation sources on a cost-per-watt basis.
As part of the deal, which will result in 75 new jobs at Ceres and 75 new jobs at the NanoCollege — in addition to 100 new jobs that would have to be created by local suppliers — Ceres is being awarded $764,000 in tax credits from the state.
Ceres makes equipment used in solar cell manufacturing. The development of a new generation of machines to make thin-film solar cells is critical to the mission of the solar consortium, which is working on a technology that uses a material known as copper indium gallium selenide, or CIGS.
The role of the solar consortium, which is a $400 million initiative of the NanoCollege and Sematech, a computer chip consortium, is to get companies to work together on a standard manufacturing process and create a robust supply and equipment vendor community so the industry can become more sustainable.
The solar industry is highly fragmented, with many companies going on their own to try to develop products using varying methods and technologies.
The NanoCollege and Sematech are ideal institutions to lead the solar effort since solar cell manufacturing uses similar processes and equipment that is used in making computer chips. And much of the supply chain that supports the chip industry also can work with the solar industry. Both computer chips and solar cells rely heavily on semiconducting materials and the use of nanotechnology, which is the use of materials on an extremely small scale.
"By making critical investments in the growing nanotech sector, New York has made the Capital Region and Hudson Valley the place to be for manufacturers of nanotechnology," said Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, who attended a news conference at Ceres to announce the deal.
Alain Kaloyeros, CEO of the NanoCollege, said the deal with Ceres and the overall growth of the solar consortium is requiring the school to look at expanding its Halfmoon solar research center. It is expected that a pilot line using equipment developed through the Ceres pact will be located in Halfmoon.
"We're planning to expand the facility up there (in Saratoga County) and lease additional space."