Amonix last year began work on a new manufacturing facility in North Las Vegas, where it assembled its 7700 CPV arrays. And now it’s laying 200 employees off as it shutters the facility to revamp it for its next generation of CPV products, dubbed the 8700.
The 7700 consisted of an IMAX screen-sized solar array mounted on a dual-axis tracker that was capable of producing 60 kilowatts of electricity. It used Fresnel lenses to concentrate the sun up to 500 times onto high-efficiency, multi-junction gallium indium PV cells. But that was in 2011.
The company is now working on the 8700 solar power system.
“The new 8700 is a lower cost, higher efficiency utility-scale CPV solar power system,” said Eric Culberson, director of Global Manufacturing Operations at Amonix.
That product won’t be out until the second half of 2012. And the company has just completed work on a major project using the 7700.
“We are proud to say that we just completed the build on the world’s largest CPV solar project in Alamosa, Colorado, which will use the Amonix 7700 solar power systems,” Culberson said. “Completing this build enabled a perfect time to re-tool the factory to re-deploy the new 8700 in the second half of this year.”
In the meantime, the company has had to lay off more than two-thirds, roughly 200, employees while it retools the facility for the new solar systems. The company made cuts across the board. Workers weren’t forewarned that they would soon be laid off, according to The Las Vegas Sun.
However, when the company starts production of the new solar system, it will start bringing back employment to the hard-struck region.
“Amonix will scale up employment based on the manufacturing build plan demand,” Culberson said.
However, he did not clarify whether the company would hire more or less people when the plan starts manufacturing the new modules.
The company also recently lost its CEO Brian Robinson, who was tragically killed in a plane crash in December 2011. He was replaced on an interim basis by Jan van Dokkum from venture capital firm KPCB. The layoffs were discussed internally with Robinson, prior to the plane crash.