Solar powers 90 new jobs for city
21 November 2012
Cameron Best, Geelong Advertiser
UP to 90 jobs will be created at Geelong company Backwell IXL under an innovative project to make parts for solar farms in remote regions.
The company, best known for its IXL Tastic heaters, is to make up to 250,000 solar-panel frames in conjunction with international solar company First Solar for large projects in Broken Hill and Nyngan.
Backwell IXL is also a supplier of metal stampings, rollform sections and other products to car companies Ford and Toyota and will use that capability to develop the solar cartridge frames and manufacture the rolled form mounting systems.
The project has the backing of the state and federal governments through the $30 million Automotive New Markets Program.
"This great initiative gives us the opportunity to get into a growing business - the clean energy business," Backwell IXL general manager David Sykes said.
Corangamite MP Darren Cheeseman said it was important companies developed products and business opportunities.
"Being innovative and looking at new markets will help Backwell grow and create jobs for our region," he said.
Backwell is one of 10 vehicle industry suppliers to share in $6.5 million in grants under the joint federal/state program, which is designed to help vehicle component-makers develop business opportunities both domestically and overseas.
"The grants enable our automotive suppliers to build their commercial base while maintaining the capacity to service existing automotive customers," Victorian Manufacturing Minister Richard Dalla-Riva said.
The East Geelong firm will receive $860,000 to provide the parts for the next generation of large-scale solar plants in remote regions.
Mr Sykes said the support from both tiers of government was crucial to get the project over the line.
"If you look at it from a business equation, the return on investment is very good," he said.
"We want to keep manufacturing in Australia because it's got the highest multiplying factor of any type of business and so that's why it's essential and it's good that governments are supporting it."
Corio MP Richard Marles said it was "fantastic news for a company that has a long and proud history in Geelong ... Backwell IXL demonstrates that, with innovation, established companies can find opportunities in new and emerging markets," Mr Marles said.
Meanwhile, Corio-based galvanising company Geelong Galvanising will soon be generating its own green energy after receiving more than $227,000 from the Federal Government's Clean Technology Investment program.
The company will install wind turbines and solar photovoltaic panels to save up to $20,000 on its annual electricity costs and cut its carbon emissions intensity by 11 per cent.