At a ceremony this morning, Mission Solar Energy, LLC. celebrated the grand opening of their state-of-the-art solar panel manufacturing facility at Brooks City-Base. The factory, which is the only N-type solar cell and module manufacturing facility in Texas, will create more than 400 new, competitive-paying jobs in San Antonio. Additionally, the solar panels produced at the plant will be installed at local solar farms, generating clean electricity that will fuel the community and CPS Energy’s New Energy Economy Initiative.
The 240,000 square-foot facility is the first producer of N-type solar panels in the United States. This technologically advanced solar module outperforms traditional P-type products, producing more electricity more efficiently. The 72-cell modules are capable of generating up to 320 watts of power each and are manufactured at a rate of 50 panels per hour. The plant currently employs 240 individuals and plans to expand to 400 employees when at full, 200 megawatt capacity next year.
“Through CPS Energy’s leadership, San Antonio is quickly becoming a hub for solar energy technology in the U.S.,” said Alex Kim, President and CEO of Mission Solar Energy. “This is an ideal business climate for our growing company as we aim to launch our product on the world stage.”
Mission Solar Energy joins a number of companies that have taken up residence in San Antonio as part of CPS Energy’s New Energy Economy. The New Energy Economy initiative encourages clean energy manufacturing while creating local jobs. Already, the consortium has brought nearly 100 megawatts of solar power to San Antonio with plans to reach 200MW by July 2015. Once complete the project will power 10 percent of San Antonio’s homes.
San Antonio-based OCI Solar Power, solar developer and leader of the San Antonio solar consortium, has three operating projects and two projects under construction around Texas. Four of OCI Solar Power’s projects will utilize modules produced by Mission Solar Energy. Solar power is an important part of CPS Energy’s Save for Tomorrow Energy Plan, which aims to reduce the community’s demand for electricity by 771MW in the next five years.
“This panel manufacturing facility is the centerpiece of San Antonio’s growing solar community,” noted CPS Energy CEO Doyle Beneby. “With trackers, inverters and now panels made locally, San Antonio is poised to become a hotbed for solar manufacturing, development and installation—especially when you consider that these super-efficient panels have the flexibility to be used for utility-scale solar farms and for rooftop installations on homes and businesses. And it’s pretty gratifying to think that in a few short years, these high-efficiency panels will be generating energy all over the world.”
The factory also represents the first foray into solar power for parent company, OCI Company, Ltd. Established as a chemical company in 1959, OCI Company primarily worked with soda ash. Through the years, they expanded their business interests to include polysilicon, paving the way for solar power production. Working in coalition with OCI Solar Power, a local subsidiary of OCI Company, Mission Solar Energy will drive the globalization of the solar energy market.
“A large focus of OCI’s efforts is toward solar power generation around the world,” said SooYoung Lee, Chairman of OCI Company Ltd. “We are making San Antonio our global headquarters for this effort. This community has been incredibly supportive of our efforts, and we plan to show our appreciation by giving back to San Antonio through job creation and community service.”
As the global solar market grows, Mission Solar Energy is poised to be on the cutting edge of solar technology. Their completion of the first and only N-type solar cell and module manufacturing company in the U.S. promises to catapult Texas into the top five U.S. solar producing states. Locally, their technologically-advanced solar modules will generate electricity for the city of San Antonio just as their plant continues to generate jobs and boost the local economy. This project paves the way for the U.S. to embrace solar energy as a real and immediate possibility.
Another consortium partner of the New Energy Economy, Sun Action Trackers, also opened the doors on their 38,500 square foot facility on San Antonio’s north side. The company manufactures solar trackers which orient solar panels towards the sun. That company plans to create 75 jobs by the end of the year.