published Sunday, June 27th, 2010

Alternative energy companies expand


by Tamara Best
  • photo
    Contributed photo Signal Energy estimates that wind power farms, such as this one, will grow.

WACKER

A Munich, Germany-based company, Wacker has plans to build a plant in Bradley County, Tenn., investing $1 billion and covering 550 acres, to aid in efforts to produce solar energy. The local factory is set to employ 500 people.

Wacker is currently the world's second largest producer of hyperpure polycrystalline, material which aids in the production of solar energy. The company predicts that 2010 sales will cross the $5 billion mark.

SIGNAL ENERGY

Owned by EMJ Corp., Chattanooga-based Signal Energy is a general contractor providing services to wind and solar industries throughout North America. The company also projects growth of biomass in the region.

Signal Energy presently has more than 20 projects underway across the country and has completed more than 20 since 2005. Earlier this year, the company changed its name to Signal Energy, citing its effort to expand its renewable energy efforts.

As the nation searches for ways to create energy, officials for SIAG Aerisyn, a German-based company with a Chattanooga operation, said it's looking forward to a strong 2011.

"We're making our inroads with improving processes, bringing structure and organization," said Bernd Becker, president of SIAG Aerisyn in Chattanooga.

However, he said the remainder of 2010 could be tough.

"We don't see major improvements in the third quarter," he said. "There might be some improvement by the end of 2010, the beginning of the first quarter of 2011."

Mr. Becker said he hopes to see the finance market "breaking loose" with more money available for customers to finance their projects.

Forecasting little improvement for the remainder of the year, Mr. Becker said the company is doing well because of projects under way, saying that their order books are still full from 2009.

SIAG Aerisyn produces steel towers at its production site in Chattanooga but is not directly involved in producing the windmills. The site has the capacity to produce 250 towers with customers selling the equipment to power developers.

SIAG Aerisyn acquired its Chattanooga facility in August and has hired 50 people so far, Mr. Becker said, with the total number of employees to expand to 240 by 2011.

SIAG took over 70 percent of Aerisyn last year and a full takeover is expected by 2012, according to the company. The purchase is a $3 million investment in the Chattanooga operation.

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