BP Solar and Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley broke ground July 16 in Frederick, Md., on what is now a $97 million expansion project that will further bolster the facility's output of solar energy products. Already the largest fully integrated solar plant in North America, the plan is to nearly double the current casting and sizing capacity to approximately 150 megawatts and will create approximately 70 new jobs.

 

Exactly nine months ago, the company announced it would invest $70 million in the project. That figure has now been increased to $97 million, which will allow for space to further enlarge its manufacturing capacity to 400-plus megawatts in its casting, sizing and wafering processes. Construction is slated for completion by the end of 2009.

 

This project is part of a larger growth plan for BP Solar globally. Earlier this year, the company announced it began construction on two mega cell plants – one at its European headquarters in Tres Cantos, Spain, and the second at its joint-venture facility, Tata BP Solar, in Bangalore, India.

 

"Expanding our Frederick plant ensures that BP Solar stays at the forefront of the global solar industry by meeting demand, providing innovative products to our current customer base, and allowing us to enter new markets," said BP Solar CEO Lee Edwards. "We recognize that in order to do business in the long term, we must respect the broader needs of communities where we operate and be good corporate citizens. So, to complement our expansion plans, we will integrate sustainable building techniques such as a roof garden, bio-retention, extensive water recycling and the implementation of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) design components such as energy efficient lighting, cooling and heating."

 

Furthermore, to help educate Maryland students about the importance of solar energy, BP announces it will contribute $100,000 to the Maryland Solar Schools program. Administered by the Solar Schools Foundation, the program assists schools in the installation of solar electric systems, provides curriculum guidance, technical assistance, and can provide limited grants to help defray the high upfront cost of solar.

 

"I am proud to be here today to celebrate the expansion of BP Solar in the State of Maryland," said Governor O'Malley. "By capitalizing on Maryland's existing renewable industry and recently enacted legislation to promote solar and wind energy, I hope to make Maryland the engine of the renewable energy economy. Today, BP is helping to lead the way by using sustainable building techniques and investing $100,000 in Maryland's Solar Schools Program."

 

In April, O'Malley signed into law Senate Bill 595, which establishes a market for solar power and encourages homeowners, businesses and others to invest in roof-top systems to lower their electricity bills.

 

"Solar energy is an important option to address rising electricity rates," said Edwards. "With its recently passed legislation, Maryland is now among a number of states across the country with programs to promote the installation of clean and reliable solar power. At a time when electricity rates are increasing, this legislation allows homeowners to reduce their power bills through their own solar system on their home."

 

BP Solar is a key business within BP Alternative Energy and a global company with more than 2,200 employees focused on harnessing the sun's energy to produce solar electricity. This includes the design, manufacture and marketing of quality solar electric systems for a wide range of applications in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors. With more than 30 years of experience and installations in over 160 countries, BP Solar is one of the world's largest solar companies and has manufacturing facilities in the U.S., Spain, India and Australia. BP Solar is part of BP, one of the world's leading energy companies.