Solar Cell Company to Open Plant in Vance County, Creating over 250 jobs


Semprius, Inc., a leading innovator in high concentration photovoltaic (HCPV) solar modules, announced today they are to open a new plant in Vance County, NC.  Semprius recently secured $20 million in its first tranche of Series C venture fundraising and will use this money to build the Vance County plant near Henderson, NC.  State and local governments will also provide $18.3 million dollars towards the venture as incentive for location.

These funds will enable Semprius to open a new plant and the company would be required to hire 256 positions within 5 years to qualify for the full grant funds.  Siemens Venture Capital led the initial $20 million investment round and was joined by ARCH Venture Partners, Applied Ventures, Illinois VENTURES, Intersouth Partners, In-Q-Tel and GVC Investment.  Semprius will use the funding to construct a pilot HCPV module production plant in Vance County which will allow the company to scale up and optimize its process for subsequent large-capacity plants.

The manufacturing jobs will pay an average annual salary of $45,565. The average annual salary in Vance County is $30,004.

Semprius will have to create at least 10 of the jobs this year and at least 230 by 2015 to qualify for partial incentives.  And it has to invest at leat $80.7 million in land, buildings, machinery and equipment.  To qualify for the incentives, Semprius had to select North Carolina over other states. According to the Commerce Department, the state of Virginia offered Semprius an incentive package worth nearly $15.5 million.

North Carolina’s incentive package comprises more than a half-dozen sources, including $3 million in state JDIG grants, $3.5 million in potential sales tax exemptions, $6.8 million in potential tax credits and $2.6 million from Vance County.

The pilot plant would be built for production of its best-known product: solar panel modules. The goal is to prepare the way for large-scale production.

“We are excited to partner with the state of North Carolina and Vance County in bringing new jobs to the region, and we appreciate the commitment to both the success of our company and the advancement of solar power generation,” said Joe Carr, Semprius president and CEO. “As the adoption of clean energy continues to gain momentum in the U.S. and abroad, and demand for solar systems grows, the industry will look to innovators like Semprius and pioneer regions like North Carolina for viable solutions.”

“Semprius recognizes North Carolina’s commitment to educating the future workforce,” said Rep. Michael Wray, of Gaston. “And we’re delighted to welcome a company that is on the cutting edge of solar energy technology.”

“This announcement is a double win for North Carolina’s economy,” said Rep. Jim Crawford, of Oxford. “These are new jobs in a pioneering industry, and the company is building products that will save on energy costs in the future.”

“Semprius is creating jobs geared for the future,” said Sen. Doug Berger, of Youngsville. “They’re creating them here because North Carolina has prepared for the future, investing in education and worker training. That’s why we fought so hard against the education cuts in this year’s budget.”

To help facilitate this expansion, the company has been awarded a $600,000 grant from the state’s One North Carolina Fund. This fund provides cash grants to attract business projects deemed by the governor to be vital to a healthy and growing state economy. No money is paid up front and companies must meet job creation and investment targets to receive payments. One North Carolina Fund grants also require a local match, and this grant is contingent upon approval of local incentives.

Also, the state Economic Investment Committee today voted to award a Job Development Investment Grant to Semprius. JDIGs are awarded only to new and expanding businesses and industrial projects whose benefits exceed the costs to the state and which would not be undertaken in North Carolina without the grant.

Under the terms of the JDIG, the company is eligible to receive a grant equal to 61 percent of the state personal income withholding taxes derived from the creation of new jobs for each of the 11 years in which the company meets annual performance targets. If Semprius meets the targets called for under the agreement, the JDIG could yield $3 million in maximum benefits for the company.

The first phase of the pilot plant will be 50,000 square feet and employ 60 people. Semprius plans to expand within the next several years to 150,000 square feet and will eventually employ 256 people at the pilot production plant. Semprius will make an $89.7 million capital investment in the pilot plant, and the plant will draw $120 million in investment to the region.

Other partners that assisted with this project include: the N.C. Department of Commerce, N.C. Community Colleges, Vance County, the Henderson-Vance Chamber of Commerce, the Vance County Economic Development Commission, Golden LEAF Foundation, the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center, N.C. State University Economic Development Partnership, US Department of Agriculture and Progress Energy.

Semprius is banking on continuing growth in demand for solar power and says its technology enables production of “extremely tiny” photovoltaic cells that amplify sunlight “more than 1,000 times.” To help manufacturers, Semprius says its process can be used on existing equipment and with current commodity materials, thus cutting capital and other costs.

“Demand for CPV is expected to grow exponentially over the next several years to greater than 6 gigawatts by 2020,” said Joe Carr, President and CEO of Semprius, Inc. “Semprius modules offer the superior conversion efficiency, low cost and high reliability needed for our customers to meet this demand and are a perfect option for achieving grid parity with fossil-based electricity.”

Semprius builds its modules using novel processes that combine extremely tiny solar cells with low-cost, efficient optics that concentrate the incoming sunlight more than 1,000 times. Despite the high level of concentration, Semprius modules remain cool for improved long-term reliability and performance.

In addition to its highly efficient cell technology (greater than 40 percent NREL-certified), Semprius utilizes an automated manufacturing process, leveraging standard manufacturing equipment and commodity materials, to dramatically reduce capital and labor costs.

“Semprius modules have been under on-sun testing for several years now with excellent field performance,” said Carr. “From our proprietary micro-cell technology to the enclosure and everything in between, we’ve designed our modules to be efficient, low-cost and reliable.”

About Semprius

Semprius, Inc., uses patented cell technology and novel manufacturing processes to produce high-efficiency, low-cost high concentration photovoltaic (HCPV) solar modules that offer increased performance and reliability. The company is finalizing plans to construct a pilot production plant that will be used to scale up and optimize production for subsequent large-capacity plants. For more information, please visit www.semprius.com