CONCORD, N.C. In 2014, Swiss-based Alevo moved into 3.5-million square feet of manufacturing space in Concord. The first year revolved around turning a shell of a building formerly occupied by Phillip Morris into a productive space for GridBank energy manufacturing, setting up equipment, and fine-tuning production into their second year.Aside from the almost perfect space for future expansion, Alevo saw promise in North Carolina’s energy industry and Jeff Gates, the company’s vice president of sales, noted its energy ecosystem.”There’s a huge number of energy professionals in the area, well educated, general workforce, and Parker Hannifin, who is our inverter supplier, is also in North Carolina,” Gates said. “Having that critical mass of complementary skill sets is almost like Silicon Valley to some degree. The more people you have like that, the more creative you can be and the more growth you’re going to see.”From nuclear energy, cleantech, smart grid clusters and solar, North Carolina’s energy industry is as diverse as its landscape. In 2014, North Carolina ranked second in new solar capacity with 357 megawatts (MW). The state ranks second in growth in turbine manufacturing, third in fossil fuel power generation, and fifth in semiconductor and related device manufacturing.With the lowest corporate income tax rate in the Southeast, notable research facilities (including RTI, one of the world’s leading institutes which employs 3,700), and three Tier 1 research universities, it’s not just Alevo that views North Carolina as a sort of ‘Silicon Valley of energy.’ Since 2010, there has been a 9.3 percent industry growth and 39,000 are currently employed.Being only a short drive from America’s largest power holding company, Duke Energy, one might think Alevo would be the slightest bit intimidated. But the company’s two cutting-edge advantages Alevo Analytics, a software management system that monitors energy output, and Alevolyte, their inorganic, lithium-ion battery that is non-flammable and has a 20-year life not only show promise but almost guaranteed growth.Currently, 200 employees occupy the massive, sometimes staggering, amount of space. Alevo has only publicly announced two projects: an 8 MW / 4 MWh project in Lewes, Del., and a 10 MW / 3 MWh project in Rabbit Hill-Georgetown, Texas.For the future, Gates mentioned Concord facility only has one manufacturing line installed but can hold up to 20, with growth predicted in the next five years. Alevo’s impact on North Carolina and their contribution to the rapidly growing energy industry is still in the beginning stage.Gates hopes to “increase job growth, we anticipate hiring additional workers as we expand the next two production lines” and mentioned expanding growth and business for partner Parker Hannifin.
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