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Ohio ranked 2nd in U.S. in solar-panel output

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The statistics were in the solar association's quarterly report. Ohio and Oregon have the largest amounts of solar manufacturing capacity in the country, the report said, which allowed them to beat other states.

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Ohio was second in the nation for solar-panel manufacturing during the first quarter of this year, in part because of the start of production at Willard & Kelsey Solar Group LLC in Perrysburg, according to a solar-industry trade group.

The Solar Energy Industries Association of Washington says Ohio produced 66 megawatts of photovoltaic modules in the first quarter of 2011, up 50 percent from 44 megawatts of solar modules produced in the state during the first quarter of 2010.

Oregon was tops in the nation for solar manufacturing during the first quarter of this year, making 120 megawatts of solar modules during that time, according to the solar association.

The statistics were in the solar association's recent quarterly report. The association says Oregon and Ohio have the largest amounts of solar manufacturing capacity in the country, which allowed them to beat out other major solar states, such as California and New Jersey.

Increased solar production means more jobs for Ohio and other states with manufacturing-based work forces, the solar group said.

"Solar is allowing those workers to take the skills they have developed at an auto factory, for example, and use them to [build] America's rapidly growing solar industry," the association said in a statement.

Solar panel manufacturers in northwest Ohio include Toledo-based Xunlight Corp. and Tempe, Ariz.-based First Solar Inc., which has its only North American manufacturing facility in Perrysburg Township.

Isofoton, a Spanish solar-panel maker, also plans to open a $32.2 million manufacturing plant in Napoleon that will start operations by early next year.

The solar-industry group said Ohio's solar-panel manufacturing was boosted by Willard & Kelsey, which makes cadmium telluride thin-film solar panels. The local firm started commercial production of its solar panels in January and expected to reach full capacity for its first manufacturing line -- making about 300 megawatts of solar panels a year -- by March. Company officials said in February that they hope to run four production lines by mid-2012.

Representatives for Willard & Kelsey could not be reached for comment yesterday.

First Solar also plans to ramp up its solar-panel production in Perrysburg this year to 256 megawatts for 2011, compared with 250 megawatts of solar panels made at the local plant in 2010.

Nationally, solar manufacturers made 348 megawatts of solar modules during the first quarter of 2011, up 31 percent from 265 megawatts produced in the first quarter of 2010.

Contact Sheena Harrison at: sharrison@theblade.com or 419-724-6103.

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