Abound Solar Picks up $12.6 Million Tax Credit

On January 18, Abound Solar Inc. of Loveland, Colorado, announced that it would be getting $12.6 million in the form of a tax credit from the U.S. Energy Department, via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (also known as the economic stimulus program, or ARRA).

The credit was reportedly awarded through a competitive selection process that examines how many “green” jobs a firm creates, the cost effectiveness of its operations, the speed at which it implements manufacturing processes, and the overall benefit in terms of greenhouse gas reduction.

For Abound, founded in 2007 as AVA (Air Vacuum Air) Solar after 15 years as a Colorado State University (CSU) technology incubator, the award is yet another catalyst to aid it in its development and perfection of a proprietary, largely automated process that creates thin-film photovoltaic modules via cadmium/telluride (CdTe) deposition on a glass substrate, rather than using conventional silicone, using semiconductor technology.

Abound, in which CSU holds equity as part of a licensing arrangement, has an R&D facility in Fort Collins, offices in Loveland and a manufacturing plant in Longmont. The $12.6-million tax credit will be used, according to Abound officials, to expand manufacturing by adding another production line dedicated exclusively to its CdTe panels.

Abound is one of 183 companies in 43 states slated to receive $2.3 billion in tax credits as part of the economic stimulus program approved last year. The credits are less than American companies applied for, by about $4.7 billion, but President Barack Obama has already expressed his commitment to add another $5 billion to the program.

The tax credit is very good news to Abound, whose Longmont factory, at 9586 I-25 East Frontage Road (Longmont) recently sold to W.W. Reynolds Co. for a record breaking $10+ million, marking a sale that ranks at the very top of industrial tenant transactions in 2009.

Sale of the 126,384-square-foot, Class A manufacturing facility is not expected to affect Abound’s solar panel production, as Abound leases the property. In fact, according to W.W. Reynolds Co. CFO Rick Woodruff, the “significant improvements” that Abound has already made to the property mark the company as a prime tenant, and one that the real estate development and property management firm intends to hang on to.

Also not expected to affect solar panel production was a fire at the factory about 6 a.m. on New Year’s Day, in a single piece of line machinery which was largely extinguished before firefighters from the Mountain View Fire Protections District arrived on the scene.

However, because the deposition material, cadmium telluride, is toxic, 11 workers and four firefighters were sent to Longmont United Hospital for evaluation. All were checked out and released within a half-hour.

Damage to the machinery was insignificant, according to Abound spokesman Mark Chen, though no dollar estimate was provided. The production line was briefly out of service, to inspect for any further hazards, but has since been restored to full functioning.

Another Colorado firm, Advanced Energy of Fort Collins, will be getting $1.2 million to set up a manufacturing facility for utility-scale inverters used to integrate PV installations to the electrical grid by converting direct current to alternating current.

And a third firm, Arvada-based Reflec Tech, will manufacture the mirror facets used in parabolic trough concentrating solar power (CSP) systems, making facets that meet or exceed the optical and structural characteristics of facets current being produced, but at reduced cost and with greater durability, to further advance utility-scale CSP production.

Author: Nate Lew

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Posted in: Solar Policy

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