Isofoton, based in Malaga, Spain, was formed in 1981 as a spin-off project at the Polytechnic University of Madrid. The global firm, which operates a factory in the Andalusia Technology Park in Malaga, formed Isofoton North America about 10 years ago with the idea of entering the U.S. market. Michael Peck, chairman of Isofoton North America, says the company’s management has long seen the U.S. market as a major opportunity, and spent three years validating the potential supply chain in Ohio before making the decision last year to locate in Napoleon, a town of about 10,000 located 40 miles (64 km.) southwest of Toledo.
The factory initially will consist of a 50-MW crystalline silicon PV module assembly line. Isofoton expects a shortterm ramp-up to a 100-MW assembly line, with plans then to add a 100-MW cell line. American Municipal Power, Inc. (AMP) has agreed to purchase up to 200 MW of solar panels over five years from Isofoton’s Napoleon factory, which also has been selected by the Turning Point Solar project in Noble County, Ohio, and American Electric Power (AEP) to supply photovoltaic panels for 49.9 MW of solar energy to be erected on reclaimed mine lands.
Isofoton has been refitting a building formerly occupied by an automotive supplier. Equipment is being installed and hiring is under way. Peck says the goal is to have at least 120 people working in the factory by the end of the year. Napoleon and Ohio offered the right mix for the company, he says.
“Toledo is one of the most important solar manufacturing clusters in the country,” Peck says. “It’s where thin film was invented and has an important group of companies and investments. None do exactly what Isofoton does, so it fits in without competing against any one.”