Solar Frontier and other green companies look to set up shop in New York State


Solar Frontier is poising to join other solar companies in New York State following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to explore locating its US headquarters and opening a solar panel factory in the region.

The company has signed the MOU with the State University of New York College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (SUNY CNSE). Under the MOU, the company will look to conduct a technical and economy feasibility study for both R&D possibilities with the College and the manufacturing of CIS thin-film modules in Buffalo.

A statement from SUNY CNSE said that the potential undertaking could generate over $678 million in investments over seven years and create 250 direct jobs and 700-1,000 indirect jobs.

Hiroto Tamai, president and representative director of Solar Frontier, said in a statement, “We are honoured to work with New York State and CNSE to advance our proprietary CIS technology R&D and manufacturing in New York. Collaboration would provide Solar Frontier the opportunity for significant growth, by establishing overseas production bases and advancing our company as a global leader in solar energy. And under the leadership of Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York is a leading candidate for an international manufacturing facility.”

If a deal eventually goes ahead, it will make Solar Frontier the second company of its ilk to enter the region after panel manufacturer Silevo. The Silevo building is to be based at the RiverBend clean energy technology hub in South Buffalo, along with lighting producer Soraa.

The RiverBend site is being made possible through a $225 million dollar by the State of New York through The Buffalo Billion Investment Development Plan, which was launched last year. Funding for the first phase of that plan came in the 2012 budget. The plan calls for a multi-year $1 billion economic development package for the city of Buffalo with the aim of spurring $5 billion in investment and creating thousands of jobs. And in January, Governor Cuomo unveiled $1 billion in additional funding for the state’s NY-Sun Initiative.

CNSE has previously built a major high-technology R&D infrastructure that initially targeted semiconductor R&D and manufacturers such as Global Foundries, formerly the manufacturing operations of US microprocessor firm, Advanced Micro Devises.