Score one for Georgia in the nationwide battle to secure green jobs. Suniva, a solar startup building highly efficient solar cells with low-cost manufacturing, said this morning it will be building its first manufacturing plant in Gwinnett County, Georgia. For those of you not familiar with the southern Peach state, that’s in the Atlanta area. Its also in Suniva’s home state — the company was founded by Ajeet Rohatgi at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s University Center of Excellence in Photovoltaics.
Suniva says the manufacturing plant will have initial solar production capacity of 32 MW, with a potential for expansion to 100 MW, and will add around 100 additional jobs to the region. Back in February, Suniva said it had raised $50 million in a second round of financing to get the plant built. Suniva’s investors are New Enterprise Associates, Advanced Equities, Goldman Sachs Group, HIG Ventures and Quercus Investments; Suniva execs have predicted the company will bring in $10 million in revenues this year and will be profitable next year with $100 million in sales.
Suniva CEO John Baumstark told us that the company is getting incentives at both the state and local level to keep the manufacturing plant in the state, but that the biggest reason to remain in Georgia is to be close to Georgia Tech. Transferring the solar tech from university labs to commercial scale production is just easier when the distance is short, says Baumstark.
That’s not to say that any additional plants will also remain in the state. Baumstark says other states have approached the company and have been aggressively courting it. States like New Mexico, Massachussets, Florida, Arizona and Nevada have been aggressive at offering companies incentives to bring valuable green-collar jobs to their states. And the presidential election has been all about how to stimulate green jobs, fight climate change and help the economy. So we’re wondering which presidential candidate will make a speech from Suniva’s plant opening?