The Tri-Cities area of northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia sees a bright future in the solar industry.

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn., PRNewswire-USNewswire [WorldofRenewables.com]

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Kingsport, Tenn.-based AGC Flat Glass is a major supplier to such well-connected such international customers as Dutch Shell, BP Solar, Sun Power, Solar World, Mitsubishi, Sony and Sharp. AGC’s Kingsport, Tenn., facility employs about 225 workers. AGC produces glass solutions for three main solar applications: photovoltaic modules, thermal collectors and concentrating solar mirrors.

The company exports heavily since the U.S. still lags behind such solar powerhouses as Germany, but AGC Vice President Patrick Thompson thinks that is about to change. He anticipates significant expansion of the U.S. market for flat glass, which could tip that balance toward the domestic market.

He said, “We think that by 2012, U.S. demand will rival Germany‘s current 50 percent share of the market, and we think that will let AGC achieve a balance between exports and the domestic sales.”

That view is supported by a recent study by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), which cites strong domestic growth in the solar sector during 2009 amounting to a 36 percent increase in investment over 2008.

Another player in the Tri-Cities region is Abingdon, Va.-based Highlands Solar Energy, Inc., which designs, installs and services solar energy and solar water-heating systems for residential and commercial applications. Highlands installs grid-tied battery backup and off-grid solar energy systems, and helps customers take advantage of federal and state tax credit programs.

Tennessee‘s Solar Initiative is already in full swing. The Pew Charitable Trust now ranks Tennessee third in the nation for clean energy job creation. Recent developments in the state include Confluence Solar’s $200 million in a manufacturing, warehousing and distribution facility near Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where extensive alternative energy research is already taking place. German chemical giant Wacker Chemie and Hemlock Semiconductor are building $1 billion-plus polycrystalline silicon facilities in Tennessee, and the U.S. Department of Energy recently unveiled its “Tennessee Valley Energy Enterprise” to reuse federal sites across the Southeast for energy-related research.

“Solar holds great promise for our entire area, and we’re positioned to capitalize on this,” said Tom Ferguson, President and CEO of the Regional Alliance, which promotes industry throughout Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. For more information, visit Regional Alliance, call (423) 323-8107 or contact Ferguson at tferguson@alliancetnva.com.

Media representation: Clark Miller Communications at (865) 414-1908.

SOURCE Regional Alliance

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