February 09, 2011

Slaughter Pushes To Create Green Jobs Center of Excellence At Kodak Business Park

By: by Victoria Dillon, Office of Representative Louise M. Slaughter


Rochester, NY - Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (NY-28) today announced that negotiations are under way that would bring a New Jersey solar cell producer to Kodak's Eastman Business Park bringing with it the promise of more green jobs in Rochester.
Slaughter has been working with Natcore Technology Inc. (TSX-V: NXT; NTCXF.PK) an innovator in solar technology that aims to mass manufacture flexible solar cells which could reduce the cost of making a solar panel and the time required to install a commercial solar array by 60 percent. Based in Red Bank, New Jersey, Natcore currently does not have a presence in Upstate New York. But seeing that Kodak Business Park would be a perfect fit to meet Natcore's research, development, and manufacturing needs, Slaughter has joined Kodak in trying to establish Natcore's research lab and future production facility in Rochester bringing with them the green jobs of tomorrow.  
"I have been amazed by the solar technology being developed by Natcore because I see the potential it has to make solar energy more efficient and cleaner to produce, making it a much more attractive option to manufacturers and consumers alike," said Slaughter. "In Rochester, we are all familiar with the technological expertise and manufacturing knowhow on the Kodak campus and if we can pair their capabilities with the emerging technology being developed by Natcore we can bring the green jobs of tomorrow to Rochester. I see Natcore and Kodak to be an ideal fit and I'm happy to do everything I can to bring these companies together to ensure that more of tomorrow's technologies are branded ‘Made in the USA'."
On the heels of President Obama's call in his State of the Union Address to grow U.S. innovation, Slaughter also personally called on the Obama Administration and the U.S. Energy Department to work with Natcore so that it can establish a manufacturing center in Rochester. In previous expansion ventures, Natcore has formed a joint venture with companies in China but Slaughter is encouraging them to manufacture their flexible solar cells in the United States so that the technology created in America is manufactured in America.  
"We are deeply committed to keeping our technology in our own country," says Natcore President and CEO Chuck Provini. "But so far it's been very difficult to accomplish that. Now Congresswoman Slaughter has injected a burst of energy on our behalf, with the White House, the DOE and Kodak. We are deeply grateful to Mrs. Slaughter for her vision and persistence. We think that Kodak's roll-to-roll film manufacturing equipment could be a perfect fit for our flexible solar cell technology and that, finally, we can help create some jobs here in America for Americans."

To help attract more green-job photovoltaic manufacturers to Rochester, Slaughter is also pushing the Department of Energy to award Kodak a grant to create a new Thin Film Center of Excellence in Rochester to enable prospective Photovoltaic manufacturers, like Natcore, to set up shop at the Eastman Business Park and bring new jobs to Rochester.  Below is a copy of the letter Slaughter wrote in December to the Department of Energy, which expects to announce grant winners later this month.  Kodak is a leader in chemical, thin film, and coating capabilities, which are all core competencies needed for the production of photovoltaic solar cells.  
"No one knows more about manufacturing film products than Kodak," said Mike Alt, Director of Eastman Business Park.  "Kodak has developed thin film technology that is directly applicable to the next generation of photovoltaic panels.  At Eastman Business Park, we have the technical resources, development and pilot tools, and the manufacturing capacity to accelerate the commercialization of new technologies, such as Natcore's roll-to-roll solar cell process."
Slaughter has been working with Kodak to use the competitive advantages already in place at the Business Park to attract small companies, like Natcore Technology and LiDestri Foods which came to the Business Park in 2010. Kodak's Eastman Business Park is an especially advantageous home for manufacturing companies that can take advantage of Kodak's low energy rates and existing equipment and infrastructure saving them millions in startup and operations expenses. By coming to Eastman Business Park, manufacturers would be able to create a turnkey operation with already existing manufacturing equipment along with engineers with the expertise to bring their manufacturing processes to their full market potential  quickly.  
 Kodak's Eastman Business Park is an ideal place to begin manufacturing Natcore's flexible solar cells using its proprietary "Liquid Phase Deposition" process.  Natcore may also establish an R&D lab at the Business Park where it would accelerate its development of super-efficient tandem solar cells that could achieve twice the power output of today's most efficient solar cells.  Until now, these tandem cells have been producible only under lab conditions, and at very high costs. Natcore's process has the potential to allow their mass production at a lower cost/watt than anything available today.  
Due to Slaughter's intervention, Department of Energy officials are now meeting with Natcore to assess possible programs to help fund the development of a manufacturing operation at Eastman Business Park.

Text of Slaughter's Letter Supporting Kodak's Department of Energy Grant Request
November 22, 2010
Assistant Secretary Cathy Zoi
Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)
Department of Energy
Mail Stop EE-1
Washington, DC 20585
Dear Assistant Secretary Zoi:
I am writing in strong support of Eastman Kodak Company's application involving the Department of Energy's Photovoltaic Manufacturing Initiative (DE-FOA-0000259). I share the Administration's commitment in positioning our country as a leader in developing alternative energy technologies. I believe Kodak has the capacity to be a strong player in the solar technology arena.
A major hurdle for start-up companies is their ability to transition from the lab to the stages leading up to full-scale commercialization. With over 100 years of experience in materials science, and specifically film expertise, Kodak has the capability to provide start-up companies involved in PV technology with the necessary resources. From idle roll-to-roll film manufacturing facilities to a highly-skilled workforce, Kodak is in the position to provide these companies with the infrastructure needed to grow here in the United States.
Kodak's proposal involves creating a "Thin Film Center of Excellence" in Rochester, New York, which would leverage Kodak's current assets and expertise, and will simultaneously attract new business and job opportunities to Upstate New York.  The Rochester region has a strong talent pool with world class universities, and Eastman Business Park has the resources necessary to fulfill the Department's search for a manufacturing development facility.
I appreciate your leadership on this issue, and look forward to a continued dialogue regarding how New York State can work with the Department to see that the Photovoltaic Manufacturing Initiative achieves great success. 
Louise M. Slaughter, U.S. Representative