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Solar Panel Factory & Power Plant Set For U.S.-Mexico Border

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Aired 9/13/11

A tri-national venture announced plans to build a solar panel manufacturing plant and solar farm in a green tech park near Mexicali.

Baja Sun Energy will be producing solar panels that may be used to build solar arrays like this one.
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Above: Baja Sun Energy will be producing solar panels that may be used to build solar arrays like this one.

— Mexico is getting in on the rush to produce solar energy in the Southwest.

On Monday, Baja Sun Energy announced the establishment of the first integrated solar business in Mexico. The company plans to both manufacture solar panels and build a solar electric plant to harvest energy from those panels in the desert near Mexicali, along the U.S.-Mexico border.

It will break ground later this year on a plant that will initially manufacture enough solar panels to produce 25-megawatts of electricity, enough to power roughly 25 thousand homes. The company also said it has secured a customer for its first 10-megawatt solar farm.

That’s just the first phase of a much bigger project, said David Tenney, chief financial officer of Silicon Border, which is part owner of Baja Sun. The company plans to eventually manufacture enough solar panels on a yearly basis to generate 100 megawatts of energy, and build solar farms capable of generating 150 megawatts.

Baja Sun Energy expects to employ 2,000 people during the first phase of the project.

It is a joint venture between Mexican development firm Grupo Maiz, Taiwanese company Arima EcoEnergy and Silicon Border, a science and technology park near Mexicali first announced in 2004. The park has had trouble attracting companies since the Great Recession.

The German solar cell manufacturer Q-Cells announced plans in 2008 to build a $3.5 billion manufacturing plant in Silicon Border, but those plans were shelved after the company sustained huge losses in 2009.

Baja Sun will likely be the park's first tenant. The state government of Baja California and the Mexican federal government are contributing cash grants to help spur the project, Tenney said.

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