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AQT Solar Selects South Carolina as Manufacturing Site

This will be the firm’s second production facility and will create 1,000 green jobs by 2014.

AQT Solar, a leading developer of low-cost CIGS (copper-indium-gallium-diselenide) thin-film solar cells, has selected Richland County, South Carolina as the location for its second manufacturing facility. 

The company plans to create 1,000 jobs at the 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 the current order backlog of 160MW, a portion of which will be delivered this year via AQT’s Sunnyvale manufacturing site.

 Exterior shot of AQT Solar's South Carolina facility

 South Carolina’s strong market for clean energy and favorable business climate made it an attractive choice for AQT to locate its second facility. The large number of universities and technical colleges in the region provides a trained labor force required to fill the jobs that the facility will require.

“AQT Solar has achieved significant growth in a short period of time and we are excited to work with the state of South Carolina as we begin this next phase of our company’s development,” said Michael Bartholomeusz, CEO, AQT Solar.

“This new facility will not only increase the production capacity for AQT in the years to come, but will help drive the clean tech industry in this great state and create thousands of sustainable, high value jobs. We appreciate the extraordinary assistance we received from the South Carolina Department of Commerce, the CentralSC Alliance and Richland County. The state’s commitment at all levels made this project possible,” he continued.

“I want to welcome AQT Solar, Inc., to the South Carolina family,” said United States Senator Lindsey Graham. “Few issues facing our nation are as important as our need to become energy independent and I have long believed that South Carolina could be a leader in this effort. I am very pleased we are welcoming a new partner that will help pave the way to American energy independence while delivering the jobs and technology of the future to our state.”

“South Carolina continues to attract investment from a broad range of companies across the nation and around the globe. The decision by AQT Solar to establish a manufacturing operation and create a significant number of jobs in South Carolina is a positive indication that our business-friendly climate and skilled workforce are working to attract new investment. This announcement in combination with Amazon’s recent announcement brings significant new opportunity to the Columbia region. To continue to attract new job opportunities from a variety of industries, we must remain committed to efforts that will keep taxes and regulatory burdens low, and thus our business climate attractive to new investment. We congratulate AQT Solar and wish the company much success in its endeavors here,” said Joe Taylor, Secretary of Commerce.

The new facility, located in the Carolina Pines development in Richland County, will begin producing AQT’s breakthrough CIGS solar cells by the beginning of 2012 and ultimately grow to approximately 1GW 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.

“Bringing a solar technology leader like AQT to the Midlands with 1,000 high paying jobs is a huge win and a strong sign of things to come,” said Columbia mayor Steve Benjamin. “The green, knowledge economy is here to stay and this puts us on the cutting edge.”

“Richland County is very pleased to join in the announcement that AQT Solar has chosen to locate in our jurisdiction after months of positive discussions and negotiations. This announcement further solidifies Richland County’s position as an alternative energy destination in this green, high-tech market. We look forward to the creation of a significant number of new jobs and new capital investment in our county, and again warmly welcome AQT Solar to Richland County,” said Paul Livingston, Richland County Council Chairman.

Central SC Alliance President & CEO Mike Briggs stated, “Today, AQT Solar is making a significant commitment to the development of a thin-film solar cells manufacturing facility to be located in Richland County. Our team has been working with the company for the past several months on this competitive project. They are a leader in their technology. The University of South Carolina Research initiatives and Innovista, Midlands Technical College and Richland County’s business friendly attitude helped solidify this deal. The Central SC Alliance core mission of recruiting best-in-class companies continues with today’s announcement. Our region has solidified its position in South Carolina as a preferred location of choice for green jobs and high tech focused companies. I want to recognize and congratulate all the local and state officials involved in the project.”

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.

ReadySC (http://www.readysc.org  ), South Carolina’s workforce recruiting and training program, is working closely with AQT to assist with recruitment as well as customized training design and delivery, led by an experienced project management team.

Founded in 2007, AQT Solar deploys a proprietary process on proven manufacturing platforms to produce high-performance, low-cost CIGS thin-film solar cells. For more information, visit www.aqtsolar.com.

The S.C. Department of Commerce works closely with economic development professionals throughout the state to recruit new jobs and investments and help existing businesses grow. Commerce has been recognized for its success in the areas of job creation and economic impact by Area Development and Business Facilities magazines.

The S.C. Department of Commerce was one of 10 state economic development organizations to receive Area Development’s Silver Shovel Award in 2009 and Commerce received the 2009 Deal of the Year award from Business Facilities magazine. Southern Business & Development also awarded the S.C. Department of Commerce the “Deal of the Year” for the 2010 SB&D 100. Commerce received the recognitions for Boeing’s selection of North Charleston for the company’s second final assembly plant to support the 787 Dreamliner program. In addition to job and investment recruitment, the agency provides a range of business support services and offers grants for community development and infrastructure improvements.  
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