AQT Solar Chooses South Carolina for Thin-Film Solar Production

Startup thin-film solar company AQT Solar has selected Richland
County, South Carolina as the location for its second manufacturing facility.

The Sunnyvale, California-based company attracted a lot of attention last August when it began manufacturing after spending only $15 million. That’s a mere fraction of the amount spent by competitors over the last few years.

According to a Forbes article, the company cut its overhead by modifying common equipment for making computer hard disks. Furthermore, the company makes CIGS solar cells in the same format as crystalline silicon cells, so that assembly can be outsourced to companies that make silicon-based modules at efficiencies of scale.

The company plans to
create 1,000 solar jobs at an existing 184,000-square-foot LEED Silver Certified facility over the next four
years. The site, which will be upfitted beginning in the first half of this year, will expand AQT’s current
production capacity and help to fill a current order backlog of 160 megawatts (MW), the company said. (A portion of those orders will be
delivered this year via AQT’s Sunnyvale manufacturing site.)

The new facility, located in the Carolina Pines development in Richland County, is scheduled to begin producing
AQT’s CIGS solar cells by the beginning of 2012 and ultimately grow to approximately
1 gigawatt (GW) of annual capacity by the end of 2014. It will be built out in phases, targeting installation of 30-
40MW annual production capacity and 60 jobs this year, and 1,000 jobs in total by the end of the four-
year build out.

In August 2010, AQT celebrated the opening of its first manufacturing facility, located in Sunnyvale,
California, with 15MW of production capacity. This facility will also increase production capacity this
year, reaching its full 30-40MW annual capacity by the end of 2011.

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