Arizona is becoming a home away from home for Spanish companies in the solar business, and the latest example is AKO Engineering Inc.
The company announced on Monday it planned to open an office in Chandler that will specialize in solar work. The office, to be in the Mammoth Equities Building along the Price Road Corridor, eventually will be home to about 15 employees.
AKO is a Barcelona-based company that works on engineering for heat transfer systems of concentrated solar power plants. Those plants work by focusing the sun’s rays via mirrors onto a transfer fluid, which is then pumped to a generator where it is used to boil water to make steam to run turbines.
The company has worked with Abengoa Solar, the developer of the Solana Generating Station in Gila Bend and a fellow Spanish solar firm, in the past. AKO has worked on various solar systems for a variety of developers, albeit primarily in Spain.
Rafael Delgado Quevedo, the company’s CEO, said in a press release that the proximity to the Southwest’s solar fields was a key element in selecting the Phoenix area as a home, and Chandler represented a good base of operations. Although the jobs numbers are small, they will pay well at an estimated $80,000 annual salary.
The company represents two ongoing trends in the Valley’s solar industry. The first is the ability of the region to lure primarily Spanish solar companies. Companies like Abengoa, Gestamp Solar Steel and Rioglass Solar all have set up operations in the Valley due to utility-scale projects ongoing in Arizona and California.
The second is smaller operations for generally all the things that don’t involve manufacturing of solar panels. That includes such things as “balance of system” parts such as inverters that Power-One Inc. is making in Phoenix, the steel work and other parts that an NRG Energy Inc. facility is making in Phoenix, and now engineering services.
The Greater Phoenix Economic Council, which was involved in the deal, has been working on a host of these type of deals in that continued effort to bolster the region’s solar resources.