The move was made by the U.S.-based company, in order for it to expand its current production capacity and fill its 160 megawatt (MW) order backlog, a portion of which will be delivered this year via AQTs Sunnyvale manufacturing site.
A 184,000 square foot LEED Silver Certified facility, the site will reportedly be upfitted in the first half of the year, with production of the companys CIGS solar cells beginning by the beginning of 2012. AQT says it hopes to grow capacity to one GW by 2014 through the implementation of a number of phases. This year, the target is to reach between 30 and 40 MWs of annual production capacity and to create 60 jobs.
The reasons given for choosing Richmond were its "strong" market for clean energy and "favorable" business climate. The large number of universities and technical colleges in the region are also said to provide a trained labor force required to fill the jobs the facility will require.
"This new facility will not only increase the production capacity for AQT in the years to come, but will help drive the clean tech industry in this great state and create thousands of sustainable, high value jobs," commented Michael Bartholomeusz, CEO of AQT Solar. "We appreciate the extraordinary assistance we received from the South Carolina Department of Commerce, the CentralSC Alliance and Richland County. The states commitment at all levels made this project possible."
United States Senator Lindsey Graham added: "Few issues facing our nation are as important as our need to become energy independent and I have long believed that South Carolina could be a leader in this effort. I am very pleased we are welcoming a new partner that will help pave the way to American energy independence while delivering the jobs and technology of the future to our state."
Additionally, AQT has said it intends to increase production capacity of its first manufacturing facility, in Sunnyvale, California by the end of this year, to 30 to 40 MW.