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Signet Solar Chooses New Mexico for Plant

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New Mexico might have lost out on the chance to have a Tesla electric car manufacturing plant built in the state, but it’s wooed solar startup Signet Solar. The company, which makes thin-film solar modules, says it will begin constructing a 600,000-square-foot solar module manufacturing facility in the town of Belen that could produce as much as 300MW per year and be operational as soon as 2010.

The plant could deliver as many as 600 jobs to the area, which is located 30 minutes south of Albuquerque. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson on a media conference call wasted no time in pointing out the new green jobs and said that in the widespread economic difficulties, New Mexico is better off than most.

Menlo Park, Calif.-based Signet was one of the first licensees of Applied Material’s (s amat) thin-film solar equipment to get a “Final Acceptance Test (FAT)” certification. It’s already started high-volume production of its thin-film solar material at a manufacturing facility in Mochau, Germany. Signet says it took about seven months to get its thin-film line up and running with Applied’s SunFab thin-film machines, which can bring down the cost and time to production. Signet, founded in 2006, currently has 100 employees.