Beatrice, NE (August 24, 2011) – Site Location Partnership (SLP), a Dallas-based corporate site selection consulting firm, announced that Rare Earth Solar, a startup solar energy manufacturer, will establish its corporate headquarters and solar panel production operations in Beatrice, Nebraska. The company will hire 120 employees within 18 months, and expansion plans could increase that number to approximately 2,000 over 10 years. Rare Earth Solar is the first solar panel manufacturer to locate in the state of Nebraska.
Advanced manufacturing employers such as Rare Earth Solar will also help raise the level of the local workforce by bringing chemists and engineers back to Beatrice, according to Lori Warner, president of the Beatrice Area Chamber of Commerce. “We always talk about brain drain, about Beatrice kids leaving the community,” said Warner. “This is the type of company that could bring those kids back. They're still going to have line workers, but they will have people in their labs as well.”
Rare Earth Solar plans to purchase a 274,000 square foot, former Husqvarna mower facility to manufacture its glass on glass thin film photovoltaic solar panels - utilizing a new, patent-pending material system. Electric service will be provided by the Beatrice Board of Public Works, a wholesale power customer of the Nebraska Public Power District. Production operations will be located entirely in Beatrice, though a small satellite office will be maintained in Lincoln for research in conjunction with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
The company’s advanced manufacturing technology will replace the typical semiconductor materials now used in solar cells with rare earth elements. “Our technology will be competitive with current solar options,” said Joseph Brewer, co-founder and chief technology officer of Rare Earth Solar. “We expect our research and development efforts to result in commercial solar panels that will produce electricity near the efficiency level of current solar panel technology.”
“This is not a spin off of what currently exists; it truly is a completely new material system,” stated Allen Kruse, co-founder and CEO of Rare Earth Solar. “We have been able to reproduce multiple cells at various sizes and are now working on the basic engineering to scale up to a full size module, essentially getting voltage and current where we want it, to meet the largest industry demand.”
Beatrice Mayor Dennis Schuster, who has been supportive in bringing less-traditional manufacturing jobs to Beatrice, said the new company will be a major asset to a town stricken with job loss over the last year. “For one thing, it’s exciting because it’s something different than the traditional business,” Schuster commented. “They’re not going to start with hundreds of people, but they will keep growing and it’s going to help.”
About Rare Earth Solar
Rare Earth Solar is a Nebraska-based startup which develops low-cost, thin film solar panels by utilizing rare earth elements. The company’s patent-pending technology will enable mass production of low-cost solar panels, making clean, affordable energy more accessible for consumers across the globe. Rare Earth Solar will be the first solar manufacturer to produce its products using exclusively American resources and labor.
About The Nebraska Public Power District
The Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) is Nebraska's largest electric utility, with a chartered territory including all or parts of 91 of Nebraska's 93 counties. Since the creation of public power in Nebraska, NPPD and its predecessors have had an organized economic development program with a full-time staff dedicated to the promotion of sustained economic growth in Nebraska. NPPD's Economic Development Team works to position communities and regions for economic growth, assisting with the expansion and retention of existing industry, and/or attracting new business.
About Site Location Partnership
Site Location Partnership (SLP) is a multi-disciplined advisory firm that enables the growth of businesses, communities and economies through its two primary consulting areas - corporate site selection and economic development. SLP’s Corporate Location Practice helps companies from industrial and commercial sectors select the optimal location for expansion, relocation or consolidation of business facilities. SLP’s Economic Development Practice assists various organizations in implementing business attraction strategies for new corporate investment, job creation and economic growth.
Strategic Initiatives Specialist
Site Location Partnership