Northeast Tennessee Builds Bright Future in Solar

The Tri-Cities area of northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia sees a bright future in the solar industry.

TN_Flag_2JOHNSON CITY – The Tri-Cities area of northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia sees a bright future in the solar industry.

Kingsport, Tenn.-based AGC Flat Glass is a major supplier to such well-connected such international customers as Dutch Shell, BP Solar, Sun Power, Solar World, Mitsubishi, Sony and Sharp. AGC’s Kingsport, Tenn., facility employs about 225 workers. AGC produces glass solutions for three main solar applications: photovoltaic modules, thermal collectors and concentrating solar mirrors.

The company exports heavily since the U.S. still lags behind such solar powerhouses as Germany, but AGC Vice President Patrick Thompson thinks that is about to change. He anticipates significant expansion of the U.S. market for flat glass, which could tip that balance toward the domestic market.

He said, “We think that by 2012, U.S. demand will rival Germany’s current 50 percent share of the market, and we think that will let AGC achieve a balance between exports and the domestic sales.”

That view is supported by a recent study by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), which cites strong domestic growth in the solar sector during 2009 amounting to a 36 percent increase in investment over 2008.

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Source: U.S. Tech Interactive