July 07, 2010

International Firms Bet Big On NY Energy Market

By: by Sustainable Business Oregon


International and out-of-state companies focused on clean energy are investing heavily in the Albany area, fueling a sector that has attracted more than $400 million.

Companies from Spain, Belgium and Scotland have announced plans over the past two weeks to expand their presence here by investing in research, manufacturing, engineering and sales staffs.

SEPSA N.A., a subsidiary of the Albatros Group of Spain, announced a plan this week to invest $4.6 million and add 30 employees to expand its local engineering and product assembly operations.

The company, which employs 40 workers in Schenectady, is negotiating with the state to lease or acquire land at the Saratoga Technology + Energy Park in Malta to build a new 40,000-square-foot plant. The site will give the company room to begin producing photovoltaic inverter systems that will be used in railcars and other devices.

That announcement came four days after CG Power of Belgium said it will invest $20 million to create a research and development center for smart grid and energy innovation at the University at Albany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering.

The CG Power Center for Intelligent Power will create more than 100 tech jobs, including 50 for scientists and engineers.

"We weren't aware of what was here five years ago when we identified nanotechnology as a growth area that could help many of our products," said Gautam Thapar, chairman and CEO of Avantha Group, the India-based parent company of CG Power.

CG Power designs, markets and manufactures products and offers services related to power transmission and generation. Avantha, with $4 billion in annual revenue, owns companies in the paper and pulp, food processing, farm forestry and chemical industries. Nanotechnology could make his businesses more efficient and more competitive, Thapar said.

After a group of representatives from New York met with him in India a year ago, Thapar said he realized that the best place to open a new research and development center was in Albany.

"The critical mass is here," he said, referring to the work force, universities and supply companies.