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Schott Solar opens plant in New Mexico

The planned $100 million factory is part of a wave of solar power plant construction in the southwestern U.S.

Schott Solar said Monday it will invest $100 million in a factory in New Mexico to make equipment destined for solar power plants.

The southwestern United States desert is becoming a magnet for solar investment. Utilities need to comply with renewable energy mandates, and large-scale solar installations are considered reliable and relatively cost-effective.

Solar thermal receivers Schott Solar

The Schott plant will initially produce receivers for its concentrated solar thermal power plants and 64 megawatts of photovoltaic modules. The facility is expected to begin production in 2009.

Longer-term, the company expects to make a total investment of $500 million in the facility, which will be in the Mesa del Sol region of Albuquerque.

The company anticipates that the market for solar will double over the next five years, chairman of Schott's board, Udo Ungeheuer, said in a statement.

In December, Solar thermal specialist Ausra dedicated a facility in Las Vegas, Nev., which it said will be capable of producing 70 megawatts of electricity per month.