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Abound Solar halts production of pv, cuts 180 jobs; Indiana operations won’t start until company reaches capacity in Colorado February 29, 2012

Posted by Laura Arnold in Uncategorized.
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Associated Press

February 28, 2012

As published by the IBJ at http://www.ibj.com/abound-solar-halts-production-cuts-180-jobs/PARAMS/article/32931

A Colorado-based solar module maker said Tuesday that it was suspending work on its first-generation models and laying off about 180 workers as the company focuses on a more efficient product.

Abound Solar, which hoped to hire up to 1,200 people in Indiana by the end of next year, said it plans to rehire the laid-off Colorado employees in six to nine months, after it retools equipment and manufacturing processes for the new module, Chief Financial Officer Steve Abely said. About 100 temporary workers also would be laid off, according to The Longmont Times-Call.

The Loveland-based company had about 400 employees before the cuts. Permanent workers have received severance packages.

The company received a $400 million loan guarantee from the federal government as part of a stimulus package in 2010 but has drawn less than $70 million, according to the U.S. Energy Department.

When it received the loan guarantee, Abound was projected to create 1,500 jobs in Colorado and Indiana, up from a total of about 360. Abound Solar said it still has long-term plans for the massive, unused Getrag transmission plant in Tipton, north of Indianapolis.

Less than six months ago, Abound officials said the company was on track with its original business plan, which called for adding a huge amount of manufacturing capacity in Tipton in 2012 or 2013 and hiring 900 to 1,200 people. But officials also said they wouldn’t start operations in Indiana until the company reached capacity in Colorado.

Abound Solar makes thin-film cadmium telluride solar modules. Its first-generation module performs at a 10.5-percent efficiency. The new module performs at a 12.5-percent efficiency, which would be more competitive with modules from Chinese manufacturers, Abely said.

U.S. solar industry players have been facing stiff competition from companies in China, where the government spent more than $30 billion in 2010 to subsidize its solar industry, according to U.S. energy officials.

Abound’s new solar module should save customers money, company officials said.

“While this is a difficult move with regards to temporarily reducing our work force, we know that accelerating the introduction of our next generation module will bring significant benefits to our customers and allow us to create even more jobs in the future,” CEO Craig Witsoe said in a prepared statement.

“While the challenges facing solar manufacturers have been widely reported, we continue to believe that supporting innovative companies like this is important to ensuring our nation has the ability to compete for the clean energy jobs of tomorrow,” energy department spokesman Damien LaVera said in a prepared statement.

He said the department would keep working with Abound, as it does with all loan recipients, as the company makes changes toward manufacturing a new module.

Inside Indiana Business Report: Abound Solar Still Committed to Indiana January 19, 2012

Posted by Laura Arnold in Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), Uncategorized.
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updated: 1/19/2012 1:11:55 PM

InsideINdianaBusiness.com Report

Colorado-based Abound Solar says it remains on track to hire at least 850 people by 2014. Marketing Communications Manager Becky Ellzey tells Inside INdiana Business crews continue to work on turning an empty Tipton County building into a usable facility. Ellzey says the company plans to begin hiring workers in the second half of 2012.

Ellzey says the building currently has no utility services. She says work to make the building usable will likely continue through the first half of 2012.

Abound Solar originally announced plans to bring jobs to the area in 2010. At that time, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation offered the company more than $12 million in performance-based tax credits and training grants.

The Tipton County factory has been empty since Chrysler Group LLC and Getrac Transmission Manufacturing LLC bailed on plans to move in more than three years ago.

Source: Inside INdiana Business

Abound Solar Wants Italian Sun; Will Italian Government Extention of Current Feed-in Tariff Impact Indiana? May 3, 2011

Posted by Laura Arnold in Feed-in Tariffs (FiT), Uncategorized.
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Editor’s Note: Abound Solar will be manufacturing soon in Tipton, Indiana. Mark Chen, Director of Marketing at Abound Solar, told me in a phone conversation last month that 92% of Abound’s product is exported to Germany and Italy. Of the remaining 8% of their product destined for the US, 80-90 % of that goes to California, therefore, extension of the Italian feed-in tariff will have an impact on Indiana. Laura Ann Arnold
 
Original article: http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2011/05/abound-solar-wants-italian-sun?cmpid=SolarNL-Tuesday-May3-2011
 
By Ucilia Wang, Contributor   |   May 2, 2011
 
At the Solarexpo in Verona, Italy, this week, a big question on everyone’s mind will no doubt be the fate of the feed-in tariff. The Italian government has wrestled over how to shrink it in order to control the solar market growth and its impact on consumers who help to pay for it.

On Friday, the government is supposed to approve an extension of the current feed-in tariff policy – which was originally to end in June – until this August. So what does it mean for one of the hottest markets in the world? Despite anticipated cuts, the country remains sought-after by manufacturers and developers.

“Even the most pessimistic analyst will say this year Italy will still be 3-5 gigawatts,” said Mark Chen, director of marketing at Abound Solar. “Let’s say 3 gigawatts, and that’s still larger than the U.S. market.”

Abound Solar, a Colorado maker of cadmium-telluride solar panels, announced this week the signing of distribution agreements with Italian firms Thesan and DW Europe. Thesan and DW are both distributors and integrators, and Thesan in particular has designed its own mounting systems for solar panels, Chen said. Thesan is set to showcase a solar electric system design pairing Abound Solar’s panels with its own racking at the Solarexpo.

Thesan and DW Europe also have each bought solar panels in “single-digit megawatts” from Abound Solar since the start of this year, Chen said.

Italy also has been a key market for companies such as SunPower, who just announced a plan to sell a 60 percent stake to French oil and gas giant, Total, whose offer includes a $1 billion credit over five years to help fund SunPower’s power plant development business globally, among other things. SunPower bought an Italian project developer in 2010 and announced in January this year that it had built 85 megawatts of projects in that country.

Abound is among the thin-film startups who hope to expand their manufacturing operations quickly to compete in a market where crystalline silicon remains the overwhelmingly dominant technology. The need for huge capital to build factories has prompted companies large and small to turn to government or well-funded partners for help. 

Chen said the Italian market – and Europe overall – remains attractive because its feed-in tariff policy puts a premium on ultra thin solar panels that can be integrated into the roof to appear less obtrusive. Thin films tend to be slimmer than silicon panels, which are roughly 6 times thicker, making thin film a more attractive option for building-integrated applications, Chen said.

“It has to do with the aesthetics and maintaining the traditional image of Italian villas and towns,” Chen said. “You have traditional tile rooftops. If you don’t have integration, then the first things you see are blue and black silicon cells not orange tiles.”

Some silicon solar panel makers, such as Suntech Power, however, have rolled out products for the building-integrated market.

Abound Solar has snagged a $400 million federal loan to help build 775 megawatts of factories in Colorado and Indiana. The company shipped about 30 megawatts of solar panels in 2010 and expects to produce close to 60 megawatts in 2011, Chen said. The company is in the process of doubling its existing, 65 megawatts of annual production capacity. When the new production equipment is up and running, the company believes it can cut manufacturing cost down to 90 cents per watt.  

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