The “Taconite Capital of the World” Mountain Iron Minnesota is home to the nation’s largest iron ore mine. The town is opening the state’s only solar panel factory in 2018 from a previously failed solar manufacturing company. Minnesota authorized $3.5 million in loans to expand the existing facility and purchase new equipment to replace the existing outdated equipment. The cneterpiece of the refurbished plant is a robotic white arm that quickly assembles individual solar cells into a grid pattern on each module which allows the plant to be one of the most efficient factories in the country.
The factory is mainly building solar panels for community garden companies such as SunShare who is completing three new solar gardens in Minnesota. Founder and CEO David Amster-Olszewski was quoted
By producing the panel closer to where you’re building the system, you reduce a lot of the shipping costs, and also breakage from handling, that you would have from getting foreign products.
Which is good news for Mountain Iron since Heleine plans to employ 120 workers when the factory hits full production.