OBERLIN – An idea that took almost 40 years to come to light was celebrated Friday at the opening of the headquarters of GreenField Solar Corp. in Oberlin.
The enthusiasm of father Bernard Sater and son Neil Sater was contagious as the business community and local legislators turned out to celebrate Bernard Sater’s design for a super-concentrated solar energy system named the StarGen.
Bernard Sater, 79, smiled as Neil Sater talked about his father’s quest.
“He’s a role model of tenacity – he’s been working on this almost 40 years,” said Neil Sater, CEO of the fledgling company located in the former Bayer Diagnostic building on Artino Street.
A former NASA scientist, Bernard Sater said the idea for his high-voltage, silicon, vertical multi-junction solar cells came to him when he was working on a propulsion system.
He wanted to concentrate the ability of solar cells to absorb the sun’s energy, so he stacked the wafer-like solar cells, bonded them with pressure and temperature and cut them into thin slabs.
So far, the 18-foot solar arrays have been installed at NASA’s Glenn Research Center, and 10 of the devices were installed in Mentor to help power its recreation center.
Bernard Sater said Duke Energy in Cincinnati and American Electric Power in Columbus are testing the devices, and GreenField is ramping up for production.
The company, which also has a manufacturing facility in North Ridgeville, currently has about 20 employees.
Under the terms of two eight-year job creation tax credits issued by the state, GreenField has agreed to create 200 jobs during a 16-year period.
Of that total, 120 jobs will go to the North Ridgeville facility, where the mirrors and other large components will be manufactured. The remaining 80 jobs will be based in Oberlin, where the PhotoVolt cells will be manufactured in a clean room where the air is changed every two minutes.
In addition to the tax credits, a $400,000 state grant approved in late November will pay for about half of the $800,000 cost to build a road leading to the GreenField facility in North Ridgeville. The remaining $400,000 will be borne by Dreco Inc., which owns the land and the building in North Ridgeville that is leased by GreenField.
The devices are not being marketed for residential use, and time will tell if fields of the devices spring up around businesses and utilities.
Contact Cindy Leise at 329-7245 or email@example.com.