Hudson firm wins stimulus credits for solar efforts

A Hudson company awarded more than $2 million in federal stimulus tax credits will use the money to make parts for concentrator photovoltaic systems, a type of system that turns sunlight into electricity.Concentrator photovoltaic systems are made by Spire Semiconductor, which employs about 20 people at a facility in the town’s riverside industrial park. The systems use tiny mirrors to collect more sunlight than traditional photovoltaic solar panels. The technology is fairly new and is still being commercialized.Concentrator photovoltaic systems concentrate sunlight onto photovoltaic cells through mirrors or lenses, producing more electricity per unit. The technology has been slower to reach the market due to engineering issues, particularly the need to control high temperatures that can damage the cells.The federal money was awarded last month as part of a $2.3 billion stimulus program to boost clean energy manufacturing in the United States. It was divided among 183 projects in 43 states.“Any time stimulus money comes into a high-tech company in New Hampshire, we’ll applaud it,” said Fred Kocher, president of the New Hampshire High Technology Council. “The more we can develop a solar sector in the United States, that’s great.”The energy tax credits are worth up to 30 percent of each planned project, suggesting that Spire plans to invest some $6.75 million of its own money into the project.The White House said the tax credits will create thousands of jobs, but was unclear about how many – if any – will be created in New Hampshire.Spire Semiconductor is a division of Bedford, Mass.-based solar company Spire Corp.

2nd solar manufacturerThe company last made headlines in October when it announced that it would lease the extra space in its 90,000-square-foot Hudson facility to a South Korean company looking to establish a presence in the United States.The company, Uni-Chem, is best known for selling leather to carmakers like Hyundai and luxury handbag companies Burberry and Coach, but is breaking into the solar business in anticipation of a U.S. solar market that is ready for growth.Uni-Chem is spending about $40 million to set up equipment, create production lines and upgrade the Hudson facility’s infrastructure, and is expected to start production of solar cells and modules some time in the first half of this year. The move was expected to create some 150 high-paying manufacturing jobs.To form its U.S. entity, Uni-Chem also agreed to buy 51 percent of Spire Corp. subsidiary Spire Solar Systems. Spire Semiconductor will share the space with Uni-Chem, continuing to occupy just a small portion of the 25 Sagamore Drive building.Uni-Chem will be the second major solar manufacturing operation in greater Nashua, behind Merrimack’s GT Solar, which has found success manufacturing furnaces and other products that are used to make solar wafers. GT Solar has seen rapid growth in the last few years, becoming New Hampshire’s first publicly traded alternative energy company in 2008. – ASHLEY SMITH/THE TELEGRAPH