Abound Solar is setting up manufacturing facilities with loan guarantees provided by the federal government. The Recovery Act provides funding for construction to several firms which produce solar cells on a large scale. According to the governor of Colorado, the manufacturing plant locations are in Lakewood, Colorado as well as Tipton, Indiana. The Tipton site uses a factory which was originally built to supply parts for Chrysler vehicles.
Abound Solar claims several important efficiency improvements over rival firms which produce solar panels. According to Abound, these panels will last for 25 years and are considered stable. The company claims low costs compared to traditional silicon solar panels, helping the solar panels to be competitive with other types of energy production. Abound claims that these solar panels have an energy payback period of five months. Energy payback periods are different from economic payback periods. An energy payback period for a solar panel is the amount of time the solar panel needs to generate energy to return the amount of power used to construct the solar panel in the factory. Abound claims that silicon solar modules have an energy payback period which is about five times longer, which is around twenty five months. These modules use cadmium telluride coated over glass panels in their construction.
Indiana is supporting construction of the manufacturing plants and is providing tax benefits to Abound. The state of Indiana is offering up to $11.85 million in tax credits and $250,000 in training grants for the facility at the Tipton location. The county of Tipton is also offering additional tax abatement benefits.
This project receives $400 million in loan guarantees from the federal government, as well as any additional tax benefits which the plant is eligible to receive. Senator Mark Udall claims that this project will initially produce panels which provide 840 megawatts of power each year, and potentially 1100 megawatts in the future.
Cadmium telluride has major advantages over silicon solar panels. According to the Department of Energy,
cadmium telluride has a bandgap which closely matches the spectrum of the sun, so panels constructed with cadmium telluride are much more efficient than other materials. EERE claims it can reach an efficiency of 16.5%, and Abound claims up to 13% efficiency with potential to improve in the future. EERE also states that cadmium telluride solar cells are lower cost than traditional silicon solar cells.