When Strata Solar made headlines this week for partnering with Canadian Solar on 15 projects in North Carolina, readers might not have realized that was just one example of the company’s recent growth.
Strata Solar CEO Markus Wilhelm is a former media executive who started the business four and a half years ago by “dappling in green building, PV and solar thermal,” said spokesman Blair Schooff.
The projects were small until two years ago when Strata started focusing on 6- to 7-megawatt solar farms.That’s what the company is developing in partnership with Canadian Solar for a total of more than 85 megawatts between the 15 projects.
Strata works with a lot of solar panel manufacturers and has worked with Canadian before, Schooff said.
“We have a similar approach,” Schooff said. “We work well together.”
Strata has focused on building a pipeline of multiple solar farms of about 6 megawatts each in smaller geographic regions.
“It’s a good number for us, a good farm size,” Schooff said. “We try to engineer them all similarly from farm to farm to reduce the changes for the guys in the field and the costs.”
That streamlined process has enabled the company to develop more and more solar each year. Schooff said the method will stay the same, but the farm sizes might start increasing in order to reduce soft costs and create more economies of scale.
The company has swelled to about 450 installers working out in the field and 50 in the North Carolina office, Schoof said. He expects that to triple to about 1,250 employees in the next years as Strata continues to grow in its home state and expand into neighboring states, including Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama.
“We hope to break ground in Georgia and Alabama by the end of 2013,” Schooff said. “Mississippi and Florida will come after that. We’ve begun development efforts in each one of those states. But it’s a process.”