September 23, 2011
By: Yi-Ke Peng, Staff Writer
Source: Times Union
ALBANY -- The new building rising along Washington Avenue Extension next to Interstates 87 and 90 will house a previously announced, federally funded solar energy consortium.
The University at Albany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering revealed that during a public presentation Monday afternoon.
The projected 191,000-square-foot facility containing a 25,000-square-foot clean room will be devoted to green energy research, said Alain Kaloyeros, senior vice president and chief executive officer of the NanoCollege.
Kaloyeros said the construction is privately funded, with part of the revenue coming from access fees paid by companies using the school's equipment.
A second phase of construction will add two more buildings totaling 300,000 square feet, according to environmental review documents filed with state and local agencies a year ago.
Back in April, the U.S. Department of Energy awarded nearly $60 million to the NanoCollege to create a national solar manufacturing consortium modeled after Sematech, the computer chip manufacturing consortium that was founded in Austin, Texas in the late 1980s but moved this year to Albany.
School officials have said in the past that the consortium, including cleanroom space for pilot solar cell manufacturing operations, would be housed within its Zero Energy Nanotechnology building, or ZEN, that it had planned for land north of its existing campus.
This building, now under construction, seeks to achieve the NanoCollege's goal of transferring its research and development model for chip manufacturing to green energy research, bringing private enterprise companies and academics together to work in collaboration under the same roof.
The solar consortium, known as the U.S. Photovoltaic Manufacturing Consortium, was designed to pull together a splintered solar industry in the United States that has fallen behind markets in places like China. Sematech was created for a similar reason, to reclaim leadership in the global computer chip market from Japan. Sematech not only reignited the semiconductor industry in the U.S., but made Austin into a major player in the computer chip industry. NanoCollege officials believe the solar consortium, and its $300 million in private commitments, could make Albany and New York state a hub for solar manufacturing.