Solar panel maker Stion to create 1,000 Miss. jobs

The Magnolia State will get a thin-film solar manufacturing plant as part of a state deal that includes a $75 million loan.

Stion makes CIGS solar panels at its San Jose, Calif.-based facility with plans to expand to a factory in Mississippi. Stion

Thin-film solar manufacturer Stion announced today that it plans to build a factory in Hattiesburg, Miss., as part of a long-term $500 million investment in the state.

As part of the deal, in addition to tax incentives, the San Jose, Calif.-based start-up received a $75 million loan.

The first phase of the project, a 100-megawatt solar panel production line for making copper, indium, gallium, and sulfur-selenide (CIGSS) solar cells, will create 200 direct jobs and include $100 million in investment in the state, according to Stion.

"Today's announcement that Stion is locating a thin-film solar panel manufacturing facility in Hattiesburg is further proof that Mississippi is an ideal location for clean energy companies to locate and expand," Gov. Haley Barbour said in a statement. "I am pleased to welcome Stion to Mississippi, and I thank the company for creating so many high-quality jobs for Mississippi's workers."

Stion said it believes that this is the first thin-film solar panel factory to be built in the state. But it is certainly not Mississippi's first solar panel factory.

Barbour has already been credited with garnering green-collar jobs for his state from at least one other solar technology company: in May 2010, Twin Creeks Technologies broke ground on a solar panel factory in Senatobia, Miss., making its crystalline silicon photovoltaics, that is expected to bring 500 jobs to the area over five years. As part of the deal, Twin Creeks Technologies will invest $175 million, according to the Mississippi Development Authority. Twin Creeks Technologies says its factory is expected to be completed by the end of first quarter 2011.

Stion, which was started in 2006, counts Khosla Ventures, Braemar Energy Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and General Catalyst Partners among its venture capital investors. In addition to its CIGGS solar cells, the company has also been working on a double-layer solar module that it says could improve solar efficiency by as much as 35 percent.

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In a software-driven world, it's easy to forget about the nuts and bolts. Whether it's cars, robots, personal gadgetry or industrial machines, Candace Lombardi examines the moving parts that keep our world rotating. A journalist who divides her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, Lombardi has written about technology for the sites of The New York Times, CNET, USA Today, MSN, ZDNet,, and GameSpot. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not a current employee of CNET.


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