State News

Solar panel company to create 65 jobs

Posted July 7, 2008 12:47 p.m. EDT
Updated July 8, 2008 7:52 a.m. EDT

— A solar panel company will create 65 jobs invest more than $36 million in the next three years to build a factory in Mecklenburg County.

Gov. Mike Easley said Monday that Sencera International is expanding - a project made possible in part by a $62,000 One North Carolina Fund grant.

The Charlotte-based company develops and manufactures silicon thin-film solar modules that generate electricity.

Sencera chief executive officer Rusty Jewett said the company will be able to make solar panels that generate electricity at a cost competitive with power from natural gas, coal and nuclear power, but without the carbon emissions or waste disposal concerns.

We considered several different states and foreign countries. We’re glad we can remain in Charlotte. The Charlotte Chamber was extremely helpful in shepherding us through this process,” said Britt Weaver, chief operating officer of Sencera, “We’re grateful that our state and local public officials recognize the potential of both our company and what the solar industry brings to the city of Charlotte and North Carolina.”The dawn of a new solar age” is the company’s motto.

The Quercus Trust, which invests in renewable energy, led $3.5 million in venture financing for Sencera in April.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, thin films of special photovoltaic material can produce solar cells with relatively high conversion efficiencies but using much less material than crystalline silicon cells.

Sencera, which was founded in 2003, is working with clients such as the U.S. Army and U.S. Display Consortium for increasing the efficiency of solar cell technology and reducing power production costs.

The company launched development of new proprietary technology, including silicon solar cells.

Russell Jewett, Sencera’s founder who has a PhD in nuclear engineering, has worked at Sandia National Labs and launched a semi-conductor company, Lam Research, in 1997. He sold that firm before launching Sencera.

The One North Carolina Fund provides financial assistance to attract business projects to stimulate the state's economy.