It might look unassuming on the outside, a standard warehouse-style building, but inside the Abound Solar manufacturing plant in Longmont, Colo., some of today’s most advanced solar panels are being made.
Clean Energy Authority recently visited the facility and got a first-hand tour of how this company transforms two sheets of glass into fully functional, sustainably produced photovoltaics in about two-and-a-half hours.
Our guide, Abound Solar Sales Associate II Emily Weinstein, said the plant began manufacturing modules in volume in late 2009.
“We have been in full scale production for a year and a quarter.” That’s with just one production line. “We will be able to manufacture 200 megawatts a year with all three lines in place [at the Longmont facility]. We have a second in Indiana; that will be a 640-MW capacity plant. That would be the largest PV plant in the U.S.”
Weinstein began the tour with some history of Abound. The company was founded at the end of 2006.
“Our founder is Dr. W.S. Sampath. His dream was to make solar accessible in terms of cost.” she said. Sampath is an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Colorado State University. “His passion was really not about building the highest efficiency modules, but rather in building a module that was manufacturable. So what you see here is all built around mechanical engineering techniques,” she said in the lobby.
Although Sampath is not part of the company’s corporate leadership, he’s still involved with the company, said senior marketing associate Nicole Bertram.
The building formerly was used by Colorado-based Applied Films, which provides coatings for glass.
“When I started with Abound, this facility was a big empty shell,” Weinstein said, “we took over the facility and retrofitted it.”
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