Thesolar industry is on fire… in a good way. Solar panels and solar farmsare popping up all over the nation, but do you ever consider who isbehind the production of this hot technology? Maureen McHale of Advanced Solar Photonics(ASP) took a minute to speak with Kimberly Miller of Green Cities Mediaat Green Cities Florida to discuss some of their recent advancementsand the status of solar in the Sunshine State. One thing is clear fromthis interview; Florida is keeping Advanced Solar Photonics busy. Bornfrom a laser systems producer, Advanced Solar Photonics quickly found ahome in the sustainability industry by creating parts for solar panels.The demand for parts led to the idea of selling entire solar panels andeven the production of solar farms. Green Cities turned out to be theperfect opportunity for this rapidly expanding company. The mediaattention and sheer number of participants made it a perfect place forAdvanced Solar Photonics to spread their message to a diverse andattentive audience.
Inthe spirit of true sustainability and the triple bottom line, ASP is acompletely American made company, even their productions means are 100%American. Not only does this mean a more efficient way to produce theirpanels, but their expansion directly relates to Florida’s economy.Maureen states that they are expected to fill 1,500 green jobs over thenext two years in Florida’s Lake Mary region. When asked about theirfuture opportunities Ms. McHale responded with one word “Endless”. Sheand ASP have plenty to look forward to, especially with the backing ofgovernment initiatives from the Obama administration and locally inFlorida. They have no intention on squandering their good fortune,as they are making plans to diversify their brand. One way inparticular are the “Brown Fields” created by past manufacturing sectorsin Florida where developers cannot build homes. Here they foundopportunity in crisis as “Brown Fields” are perfect for installingsolar farms, which in essence turn the land from brown to green. Thesefarms range from the size of a city block to a 2,500 acre lot. Thisopens the door to become one of the largest energy producers sellingpower back to utility companies. Combine this with their assorted listof clients and Florida’s initiative to create solar cities and AdvancedSolar Photonics is set to be a major player in the industry for yearsto come.
————— Transcript of Interview – May 20, 2009
I’mKimberly Miller for Green Cities Media speaking today with MaureenMcHale of Advanced Solar Photonics, whose tagline is “innovation todayfor a brighter tomorrow,” and we’re broadcasting actually from GreenCities here in Orlando, Florida. Welcome, Maureen. Thanks so much forjoining me today.
Thanks for having me.
SoI want to go ahead and start off by asking kind of the history of thecompany, where the idea for Advanced Solar Photonics come from and whatkind of things were you guys interested in whenever you started thiscompany?
Sure. The owner of the company actuallystarted making laser systems for all different types of industries,everything from flat panel displays, semi-conductor, aeronautical,automotive, industrial applications. A lot of those applications arevery similar to the photovotaics where the panels need to be cut; theglass needs to be cut. They need to be scribed. Lots of lasers are usedin the making of them so we developed a solar line, and from thatpoint, because there’s so much demand for solar panels, the owner said,“You know what? We should not only sell the equipment that makes thepanels, we should make panels.”
And here we are.
Terrific, so how long ago did that get started?
Thecompany’s been around since nineteen ninety something…in the nineties,and Advanced Solar Photonics spent the last several years makingequipment specifically for the solar industry. The first panels areactually coming off our line in July of this year.
Terrific;and whenever these panels come off of your line, what is itspecifically that is going to set them apart from other panels that areout there?
Well not only are they made with thelatest technology and lasers, they’re also manufactured in a lean wayin that all of the processes and technologies used are very efficientmaking our panels very efficient and also the panels are going to bemade of 100% American made components the equipment even is made inAmerica.
So we’re 100% American-made.
Alright,and you know sometimes I think people forget that part of the triplebottom line and sustainability and this kind of conversation also needsto have jobs here in the United States. That’s really important.
Right; and we are growing so fast. In the next two years we’ll have fifteen hundred new green positions.
That’s terrific. And so will those be located in Florida?
Yes, actually in Lake Mary, which is just north of Orlando.
Soyou guys are located here in Florida, the sunshine state; seems likeit’s a good place for you guys to be. How has the reception been forthis kind of technology?
It has been fantastic.As soon as we announced that we were going to be making panels, thephones were ringing, the emails were coming in left and right, andshows like this just attract more attention to what we’re doing and howgreat renewables can be for everyone.
Certainly;and so who do you see as your biggest client? Is it business people? Isit people who are wanting to put solar panels on their homes? Who’syour target audience?
We’re working witheveryone along the chain. We’re going to work with installers,distributors, all the way up to utility companies that want to buy ourpower. We intend to put solar farms together so that we can sell backto the electric companies.
That’s terrific. So what do you think is the future of solar photonics?
It’s endless. Literally every week we get bigger and bigger, and more things change. It’s nothing but bright and green.
Sowith the new Obama administration a lot of green initiatives being putinto place…do you think that’s going to affect your businessspecifically? And do you think this is an easier climate with thisadministration to try and advance this business?
Ithink more people are talking about renewables because of thegovernment initiatives today. It’s nothing but good. It’s a start atleast people are starting to understand and recognizing solar panels. Iwent down to the beach this past weekend, and I saw solar panelslighting up the channel markers for the beaches and the boats so it’sbecoming recognizable. Everybody’s talking about it, and the moregovernment incentives, the more state incentives that can bring downthe costs for normal people like you and me to put them on theirhouses, and the better it is.
So what is it about Green Cities specifically that was attractive for your company to come here?It’sdefinitely the number of people we were able to get in front of, themedia attention, the government officials that were here, the fact thatOrlando is becoming a green city. I mean it’s huge for us. So anythingthat we can tag along with and be involved in is where we want to be.
So what kind of advancements would you like to see in Florida happen in the next 5-10 years?
I’mdefinitely excited about the new solar studies about more greeneverything; from the booth next to us has the pavers that the waterpenetrates through to, like I said, the solar panels lighting uptraffic lights and overhead displays and all those kind of things. Justmore and more renewable sources
Right; it seemslike a real change towards sustainability is actually happening, and tosee it happen here in Florida is exceptionally exciting I think. So arethere any upcoming projects that you guys are going to be working onthat maybe you’re excited or that you could share with us?
Yes,actually we’re looking to do a project for Seminal County Schoolsystems, and trying to put panels on their roofs, and power theirbuildings. There’s, like I said, solar farms that we’re puttingtogether. There’s something called Brown Fields, where there’s beenwaste from companies and other manufacturing processes that have gotteninto the ground, and they can no longer use the ground for newbuildings. They can’t put houses there unless they do a huge cleanup.Our panels and our solar towers are perfect for that because we canmake a solar farm, put panels on there, and generate electricity from apiece of land that may not even be usable.
That’s terrific. So with these Brown Fields and solar farms, about how long does it take to complete a project like that?
Wellthankfully we have this great technology we’ve just partnered with, amanufacturing fabricator that has a technology that can put a post forthe tower into the ground in about three hours time. Normally, it wouldtake a month for the concrete to set and things like that. It’s thesame technology that was used to put the fence between Mexico and Texasso it’s like 120 miles plus, and they did it in like sixty-one days. Sothis is a fast way to do things. So literally we can put a farm up in amatter of weeks and not months or years
Great; so more efficient.
So how big are these Brown Fields and solar farms? Do you have a rough estimate?
There’sall different sizes. Depending on the size of the contamination, itcould be anywhere from a city block to acres and acres. We’re lookingto cover probably about twenty-five hundred acres. There’s some inPensacola; some here; other local companies have them. So we’repartnering with these people to make those Brown Fields green. It’swhat we’re trying to do.
Right. That’s amazing. Well I wish you the best of luck. It sounds like you guys have an incredible year or five ahead of you.
It’s very exciting
And it’s really nice to meet you and have you here at Green Cities.
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