German solar manufacturer Schott said Monday it would build a $90 million manufacturing plant in Albuquerque, N.M.

The company previously had hinted at its New Mexico plans. In late September, Schott said it would raise its stake in solar-thermal technology by building a U.S. manufacturing facility to produce concentrated-solar receivers (see Q&A: Schott Talks Solar-Thermal).

Details of the facility were kept sparse until now. The 200,000-square-foot plant initially will make receivers, a key technology in large-scale solar projects that make electricity using the sun's heat, and 64 megawatts worth of traditional solar panels.

Production is expected to start in 2009. Schott also said it plans eventually to expand the plant to 800,000 square feet, which would equate to a total investment of $500 million.

This is Schott's second solar manufacturing plant in the United States. The other, which makes traditional solar panels, is in Billerica, Mass., and has a 15-megawatt capacity. So why New Mexico? In addition to being in close to Southwestern solar markets and the Sandia National Laboratories, the company also said it was attracted to the state's renewable-portfolio standard.

The standard mandates that 20 percent of the state's energy will come from renewables by 2020, of which 4 percent must come from solar.

Schott isn't the only European company looking to bulk up on manufacturing plants.

On Friday Switzerland-based Oerlikon, which makes thin-film coating equipment, among other things, said it would open a plant in Singapore to increase its presence in Asia.

Thin film, which is made up of technologies that use little or no silicon has been eyed as an attractive option during today's worldwide shortage of solar-grade silicon (See Thin-Film Solar Production to Leap Forward, Thin Films Lead U.S. Solar Production and Silicon Starvation).

Oerlikon's plant is expected to be completed within a year.