Bellingham built solar panels

Have you noticed all of the solar panels popping up around town lately?  Chances are pretty good that Itek Energy made them.  Itek Energy is a Bellingham based solar panel manufacturer that was founded in November of 2011 by John Flannagan.

John Flannagan dreamed up the concept for Itek nearly four years ago.  At the time he was working in manufacturing in Bellingham and felt he couldn’t ignore the fact that climate change was real.  Renewable energy was an inspiring concept to him and he decided it was time to do something new.  He spent two and a half years doing research on solar energy and in fall of 2011 Itek began building solar panels.

The company has built nearly 7,000 panels, doubling every month since it was founded.  With the recent installation of two new laminators that number is set to grow, from 50 panels a day to roughly 100.  The companies goal is 2 megawatts of power in their first year of production.

Currently 100% of Itek solar panels sales are in Washington and 80-90% of those sales are to homeowners.  There are a lot of incentives for homeowners to buy solar.  Check out this article from the Bellingham Business Journal for an overview.

Two details that I find particularly interesting about Itek are the panel recycling/payback details and their vision for the future of the company. Panels built by Itek have a 25-year warranty and a three-year payback time (the amount of time the system must operate to generate the same amount of energy that was required to manufacture it).  Nearly all of the parts of the panel can be recycled, the primary exception being the EVA (Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate, the plastic film covering the panel), which has to be heated off.

Itek’s vision for the future involves creating more small-scale solar panel manufacturing facilities in small towns across the United States. The facilities would operate much like the Bellingham facility and would have the benefit of the lessons learned there.  In doing so they would create local jobs, waste less energy in transportation, and encourage more homeowners and small businesses to go solar.

If your interested in learning more about Itek or solar power in general stop by the upcoming Solar Power Happy Hour, hosted by Sustainable Connections, on September 19th.