Carbon fiber plant opens, powered by Pacific Northwest hydro

SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers officially opened its new manufacturing plant Sept. 1 near Moses Lake to take advantage of the Pacific Northwest's abundant supply of low-cost hydropower.

SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers, a joint venture between German automaker BMW and SGL Carbon, said the plant illustrates the value of hydropower as a tool to create a sustainable business and jobs.

The state-of-the-art Moses Lake plant manufactures carbon fiber materials for ultra-lightweight carbon fiber-reinforced plastics for use in BMW's line of electric and battery vehicles.

The parent companies are investing about $100 million in the Moses Lake plant creating 80 new local jobs. The plant covers 60 acres with and option to buy additional land for growth.

All electricity for the production of carbon fibers is to come from readily available, competitively priced, clean and renewable power produced by Columbia River hydroelectric projects in central Washington.

"We believe environmental responsibility extends beyond the car itself to the entire value chain," BMW Chairman Norbert Reithofer said. "Because of this, sustainable vehicle production is becoming more and more important."

Joerg Pohlman, managing director of SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers, emphasized the importance of hydropower, appearing in July at the HydroVision International conference in Sacramento, Calif.

"Building the plant near a hydro plant was a condition we had in place," Pohlman said. "We wanted a reliable, long-term supply of power and competitive rates."

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