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ALBUQUERQUE-Schott Solar Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Schott AG in Mainz, Germany, will build an 800,000-sf solar energy technology production complex in the Mesa del Sol region. Schott Solar’s investment will top $500 million once the entire 80-acre site is built out.

A spokesman for Schott North America Inc. in Elmsford, NY says the 12,900- acre Mesa del Sol, a mixed-use community on the southeast corner of Albuquerque, was selected following a six-month search that included Canada, Mexico and 15 US states. Although Sunbelt states were primary targets, the company also considered Billerica, MA, where Schott Solar has another production facility.

“We wanted this in a region where there was a good labor pool and close to our markets,” the spokesman says, adding Mesa del Sol affords room for the Schott Solar to expand the facility. The mixed-use community is being developed by Forest City Covington NM LLC.

The spokesman tells GlobeSt.com that work will begin on a 200,000-sf first phase in late February. The plant is to come on line in 2009. The first structure will be used to manufacture receivers for concentrated solar thermal power plants and 64 megawatts of photovoltaic modules. He says that more buildings will be added as demand grows for renewable energy sources.

Schott Solar plans to employ 350 workers at startup. At build-out, the complex could provide 1,500 jobs.

“According to both industry analysts and our projections, the market for solar energy will double over the next five years,” Udo Ungeheuer, chairman of Schott AG’s board of management, says in a press release. “With this new plant, Schott Solar, the state of New Mexico, the City of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County are taking a lead in answering the growing demand for renewable energy in the United States.”

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