100 new jobs for solar energy company
– BY LAURA OLENIACZ Herald Sun
And Markus Wilhelm, founder and CEO of the Chapel Hill-based company, said he expects the growth, measured by the megawatts of power total produced by its solar panel and solar thermal system installations, continue to grow alongside the its solar energy system installation business.
This year, Strata expects to install around 10 megawatts worth of solar energy systems. Next year, Strata has installations booked for that amount just in the first quarter.
“For next year, our objective is to build in excess of 30 megawatts total,” Wilhelm said. “That’s our minimum goal.”
So far this year, he said the company created jobs for around 60 workers who did the field construction and installation work for the projects. In-house, he said the company had between 15 and 20 workers that have done the design work.
“We anticipate to hire in the ballpark of 100 additional people next year,” he said.
Strata Solar, which was launched in February of 2009, designs and engineers solar photovoltaic and solar
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thermal systems using equipment bought from manufacturers, and then handles the systems’ construction and installation.
Wilhelm said part of the company has shifted business from doing a lot of residential to to large-scale commercial installations.
A residential solar photovoltaic system, on average, has 20 to 25 solar panels, Wilhelm said. A commercial-scale solar farm can have around 5,000.
The company recently was part of an announcement of a large-scale solar installation, a 1.2-megawatt solar power plant, which is now operational in Surry County. That system was composed of between 5,000 and 6,000 solar panels, Wilhelm said.
Strata Solar partnered with Cornelius-based solar developer O2 Energies Inc. for the Mayberry Solar Farm, which is situated on 6 acres of buffer land surrounding a municipal wastewater treatment plant, according to a news release about the project.
ElectriCities of North Carolina and Duke Energy are buying the renewable energy credits and electricity generated from the farm.
Jason Walls, a spokesman for Duke Energy Carolinas, said that for each megawatt-hour of solar energy generated by the plant, that’s one renewable energy credit that the utility can use toward its compliance with solar energy production targets set by the state.
Wilhelm said Strata Solar also is building a 5-megawatt system in Shelby with more than 22,000 solar panels.
“So that’s a thousand times the size of a residential system, and it’s a project that’s valued at approximately $22 million — just one project,” he said.
Wilhelm said the company’s growth has already translated into jobs. The company opened offices in California and in Toronto last year, although he said most of the activity the company has seen is in this area.