Renewable Energy Park Expected To Generate Thousands Of Michigan Jobs

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Oerlikon Solar's photovoltaic plant in Switzerland
Oerlikon Solar’s photovoltaic plant in Switzerland will be a model for the Wixom facility.

A group of renewable energy companies have joined forces with Ford and the State of Michigan on a bold plan to convert the 320-acre Wixom Ford Motor Co. assembly plant outside Detroit into a renewable energy manufacturing park. This historic Wixom facility will be refurbished and upgraded with new manufacturing lines for solar panels and advanced energy storage. Oerlikon Solar USA has been selected by Clairvoyant Energy of Santa Barbara, California as its preferred equipment partner for the thin film solar panel manufacturing line.

Oerlikon Solar leads the thin film solar equipment sector with 10 factories in production around the world and the fastest time to market. The company’s Micromorph technology delivers the highest performing thin film silicon solar products in the world. Thin film silicon solar technology offers cost and performance advantages over traditional crystalline silicon and each year is gaining a greater share of the global solar panel market. Micromorph technology is versatile and well-suited for large-scale projects such as solar farms and industrial installations as well as for smaller rooftop applications.

“Oerlikon Solar is considered for this project because of our leading Micromorph technology and our clear track record for bringing new thin film solar factories to the market, on time and on budget all over the world,” said Jeannine Sargent, chief executive officer of Oerlikon Solar. “With a strong local workforce and the support of Wixom and the state we are confident that in partnership with Clairvoyant Energy, we can help Michigan leverage its extensive manufacturing infrastructure for clean renewable energy.”

Clairvoyant Energy plans to hire 300 employees for their production facility, which will use Oerlikon Solar equipment, starting in late 2011 and add another 700 later depending on demand. If the project is approved, Oerlikon Solar USA will establish a regional sales and support center at the Wixom site.

“Oerlikon Solar has the experience and capability we needed from a technology partner for this highly visible and ambitious project,” said David Hardee, chief executive officer of Clairvoyant Energy. “Oerlikon Solar will provide us with a technology strategy to remain at the cutting edge at relatively low risk with the goal of producing a high efficiency solar panel at the lowest cost in the market.”

Oerlikon Solar is the first thin film silicon technology provider to have IEC/TUV Rheinland certification for its entire family of thin film silicon solar technologies, including both Amorphous and Micromorph. The certification ensures that modules produced by Oerlikon Solar customers are manufactured to the highest quality standards and can endure the most challenging real world environmental conditions. With more challenging credit markets, certification also makes Oerlikon Solar projects more predictable and bankable.

Oerlikon Solar offers field-proven equipment and end-to-end manufacturing lines for the mass production of thin film silicon solar modules. Engineered to reduce manufacturing cost and maximize productivity, its end-to-end solutions feature high yield production with high equipment uptime, and low maintenance requirements.

The production lines are complete systems, yet modular and upgradeable in both throughput and process technology. As a global leader in thin film photovoltaic technology, the company provides its customers with extensive experience in both amorphous and high-efficiency Micromorph tandem technology.

Oerlikon Solar is ranked “global number one solar turnkey line supplier” by VLSI and has been named winner of the 2009 CELL AWARD for the “best technical product for thin film module manufacturing.”

Oerlikon Solar is headquartered in Switzerland, has over 750 employees in 13 locations world wide and maintains sales and service centers in the USA, Europe, China, Taiwan, Korea, Singapore, and Japan.

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