SMA Solar to convert Denver into Sunny Island

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You know the decision of a business to relocate is a big deal when the state's governor offers to serve as a de facto publicist, as Bill Ritter did yesterday during the announcement that the German firm SMA Solar Technology AG will be opening a plant in the Denver area that's expected to create 300 fulltime jobs. These workers will be making solar inverters that turn direct current from solar panels into alternating current: DC/AC, as opposed to AC/DC. And like many new energy gadgets, many of them feature cutesy, environmentalism-is-fun names -- among them Sunny Island (seen above), as well as Sunny Central and Sunny Boy.

Here's how SMA describes the sunny news:

SMA to establish largest US production facility for solar inverters in Denver, Colorado

Niestetal, October 26, 2009 -- In order to optimize the supply of inverters to the growing North American solar market, the SMA Group of Companies (SMA) will establish an additional production facility in Denver, Colorado. At its inauguration, the yearly production capacity of the new facility will be around one gigawatt with an option for expansion. The central SMA site for production, as well as research and development, in Niestetal and Kassel (Germany) will continue to grow in the years to come.

In the new US production facility for solar inverters, SMA will produce the Sunny Boy, Sunny Central and Sunny Island product lines for the North American market. SMA, the Etkin Johnson Group, the State of Colorado and the City of Denver have signed agreements for the establishment of this largest production facility for solar inverters in the US.

"We will implement the successful manufacturing concepts already employed in Germany, in our new US production. This will ensure maximum flexibility in the production of our solar inverters", explains Uwe Hertel, Senior Vice President of Production at SMA.

The premises and buildings for the new one gigawatt production facility have been rented long-term. Additionally, an option for additional space has been negotiated with the Etkin Johnson Group, a Denver based real estate developer, and Forest City Enterprises in order to be prepared for further growth of the US photovoltaic market.

"In the medium term, we expect the US market to become the largest solar market globally", says Günther Cramer, Chief Executive Officer of SMA Solar Technology AG. "With the new production in Denver, SMA will be able to reduce transportation and interim storage costs as well as currency exchange risks."

In the near future, SMA will employ a staff of 700 (including temporary employees) in Denver. Production is planned to begin around the middle of 2010. The investment for the new production line and building enhancements is estimated at around 15 million Euros.

"Together with Mayor Hickenlooper, we welcome SMA to Denver and to Colorado's New Energy Economy," Colorado Governor Bill Ritter said. "SMA is a globally recognized leader in solar inverter manufacturing. The company's decision to locate in Colorado emphasizes our growing clean-energy industry, the growing market for photovoltaics, and Colorado's success at transforming our energy future."

"The decision by SMA to build a production facility in Denver is excellent news for our region and will provide a welcome boost to our local economy" adds Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper. "This move helps solidify Colorado's place as a global leader in renewable energy under Governor Ritter."

Denver will become the first international production site for SMA. "Our headquarters for production, as well as research and development, will remain in Niestetal and Kassel, in Germany. There, with the recent inauguration of the world's largest inverter factory, which boasts a production capacity of four gigawatts per year, we are clearly showing our commitment to the high-tech location Germany", emphasizes Günther Cramer. "With the construction of that factory alone, 1,000 new jobs were created this year and we will continue to develop that site."

About SMA The SMA Group generated sales of more than 680 million Euros in 2008 and is the worldwide market leader for photovoltaic inverters, a key component of all solar power plants. It is headquartered in Niestetal, near Kassel, Germany and represented by foreign subsidiaries in eleven countries on four continents. The Group employs a staff of over 3,500 (incl. temporary employees). SMA's product portfolio includes the most comprehensive range of inverters on the market, offering a compatible inverter for every type of photovoltaic module and for all plant sizes. The product range covers both inverters for photovoltaic plants connected to the grid as well as inverters for off-grid systems. Since 2008, the Group's parent company SMA Solar Technology AG has been listed on the Prime Standard of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange (S92) and also in the TecDAX index. In recent years, SMA has received numerous awards for its excellence as an employer.

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