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Employees of a Kingsport glass making company are saying they have not been paid, with one employee saying some haven't been paid for weeks and even then some of the paychecks have bounced, according to a story by Nick Shepherd of the Kingsport Times News.

Heritage Glass in Kingsport is the only U.S. manufacturuer of solar panel glass.

The Tennessee Department of Labor reports four wage complaints from employees.


Mawuli Tse has already brought solar power to hundreds of residents in urban Ghana and other African countries.

Now thanks to a $100,000 grant, he's creating a solar product for street vendors in rural areas, reports Jamie McGee of the Tennessean.

The device uses solar panels, which can be attached to umbrellas often used by the vendors, to power mobile charging stations for customers.

Vendors may also use the system for light, allowing them to stay open later or for use at homes, Tse said.

Read the full story with video at The Tennessean: Nashvillian's solar device helps vendors in Africa

Photo:Mawuli Tse detaches a portable solar panel from the top of an vendor umbrella at his home in Nashville on Friday.(Photo: Jae S. Lee / The Tennessean)


The public is invited to learn about solar energy and its impact on Tennessee at the Community Solar Fair 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, July 19 at Knoxville Center Mall.

The University of Tennessee presents its SPECTRUM interactive solar exhibit, which illustrates how solar energy is powering states and creating new jobs across the U.S. and in Tennessee.

At 10:30 a.m., ARiES Energy will present information on installing solar panels on your home, including the process, pay-back period, impact on electricity bills, and more.

Learn about Tennessee Valley Authority's Green Power Providers program at 11:30 a.m. The program provides technical support and incentives for the installation of renewable generation facilities like solar to residential and commercial customers.

Children's activities and games will take place from noon to 1 p.m. The Muse Knoxville will be on-hand to provide fun STEM activities.

Representatives from all three organizations will be available for questions during the event.

When funding for the state's $70 million investment in the Tennessee Biofuels Initiative ended last summer, Genera Energy LLC -- created as part of the initiative by the University of Tennessee and the state -- was spun off as Genera Energy Inc. The new commercial company is focused on supplying biomass to biofuels producers.

At next week's meeting of the Technical Society of Knoxville, Kelly Tiller, Genera's president and CEO will discuss the biofuels industry in her presentation "From Crops to Fuels to Markets: Growing a Commercial Biofuels Industry in Tennessee."

For more information call Bob Scott at 690-0705 or go to

PlacedEquipment.jpgDespite announcing plant startup delays last year, Wacker Polysilicon continues to update the timetable for its Tennessee plant's construction.

Five structures measuring more than 200 feet tall are now upright and in place at Wacker Polysilicon's Charleston, Tenn. site. 

The equipment, which performs a distillation process to produce the polycrystalline silicon, was trucked to the site last year along I-75, the company says. It is taller than any other building in Bradley County, according to Mike Pare in a Times Free Press article.

"This is a very visible stride in our progress: the first major milestone of 2013.  We are excited to see this equipment now in its permanent place," said Dr. Martin Richtberg, vice president of engineering and head of the Wacker construction project.  

"Last year we saw the final phase of concrete pouring, the arrival of large core equipment, the beginning of steel erection and the start of interior work," added Dr. Richtberg.  "We are proud of these accomplishments, of our project; and we look forward to the work ahead of us this year."


Photo: This equipment was designed to perform specific types of distillation to produce a product more than 99.999999999 percent pure.  Credit Wacker Polysilicon North America LLC

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Chattanooga is now home to the biggest solar installation in Tennessee and for a U.S. auto factory.

That's according to Volkswagen, which powered up its 9.5 MW solar park at the Chattanooga location last week.

The system will provide 12.5 percent of the already LEED Platinum-certified  plant's electricity. That jumps to 100 percent during non-production periods, according to the automaker.

The Volkswagen Chattanooga Solar Park occupies 33 acres, or half of the 66-acre land parcel adjacent to VW's state-of-the-art manufacturing plant. The solar park contains 33,600 solar modules from JA Solar designed to produce 13.1 gigawatt hours of electricity per year -- equivalent to the energy consumed annually by around 1,200 homes in the area. 

The solar installation is part of VW's "Think Blue" initiative for all Volkswagen plants to achieve more efficient use of energy, materials and water and produce less waste and emissions, said Frank Fischer, CEO and chairman of Volkswagen Group of America.

Photo: From left to right: Dr. Andreas Haenel, Phoenix Solar AG/ Jim Coppinger, Mayor Hamilton County/ Frank Fischer, Volkswagen Chattanooga/Matt Kisber, Silicon Ranch/ Ron Littlefield, Mayor Chattanooga/Wolfram Thomas, Volkswagen AG/ Dr. Murray Cameron, Phoenix. Photo courtesy of Volkswagen.
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Nissan's new Smyrna site is the largest lithium-ion automotive battery plant in the U.S. 
Photo by Nissan

The first lithium-ion batteries made in Nissan's new Smyrna assembly plant are ready to power the 2013 LEAF.

While the new batteries were produced a few weeks ago, they've only now completed the required aging process enabling them to receive their first charge. 

The new battery plant is located adjacent to Nissan's existing vehicle assembly plant, which has been retooled to accommodate production of the Nissan LEAF. 

"The opening of this facility in Tennessee supports our goal of making zero-emissions mobility a reality through American jobs and American manufacturing," said Carlos Ghosn, president and chief executive officer of Nissan Motor Co. 

Production of the Nissan LEAF and the battery has added more than 300 jobs at the site. Nissan officials say operations of both the battery and car building plants could expand to 1,000 additional jobs in the future. The battery facility is capable of expanding to produce modules for up to 200,000 batteries annually. 

The plant was supported by a Department of Energy loan of up to $1.4 billion, and construction of the battery site and alterations of the vehicle manufacturing facility may eventually reach a $1.7 billion total investment.

By 2015, Nissan aims to have 85 percent of all Nissan and Infiniti products that are sold in the United States produced in North America.

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Hemlock Semiconductor is nearing the end of the first phase of of its plant in Clarksville, Tenn., according to company officials.

The company hopes to begin production next year.

The $1.2 billion plant will employ 500 full-time workers when completed and produce close to 12,000 tons of polycrystalline silicon per year initially.

However, this is almost certainly not the end of the project. The plant site is designed for a potential four construction phases, which could turn into a $5 billion investment over time.

Photo: An aerial view looking from the back side of Hemlock Semiconductor LLC from Tylertown Road. HSC will be ready to start production sometime next year. / THE LEAF-CHRONICLE/GREG WILLIAMSON
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Three Tennessee companies have received a $1million grant from the U.S. Energy Department as part of a nation-wide effort to boost small business investment.

Enhanced Systems Consultant in Johnson City will use the funds to conduct a research project for a dynamically controlled electric demand management system.  Analysis and Measurement Services Corp. of Knoxville will fund its project, Rod Control System Online Condition Monitoring and Advanced Diagnostics for Existing and Next Generation Nuclear Power Plants.  Also from Knoxville, Phds Co. will work on a project to develop detectors for nuclear physics research.

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sIMG_1774.jpgWacker Polysilicon has progressed to vertical construction at its site in Charleston, Tenn.  The three largest buildings of the plant 
are now moving upward with the installation of precast walls.

The precast buildings are fully enclosed production facilities.  More than 5,000 precast components will be used to build these facilities, with 1,800 already installed.  More than 30 buildings are planned for the site.

Ground preparation for the site began Dec. 2010. So far, more than 4 million cubic yards of dirt have been moved.

On an average full day, there are approximately 700 construction workers on the Charleston site.

The $1.5 billion plant is scheduled for completion in late 2013 with production beginning in 2014. It will  produce around 15,000 metric tons of polysilicon for solar cells and employ some 650 full time workers. 

Wacker Polysilicon is division of Wacker Chemie AG 

Construction at the Wacker Chemie polysilicon plant near Cleveland Tennessee. Submitted.
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