Acquisition is expected to put Western North Carolina on the map as the sustainability capital of the United States, with the new company's immediate focus to own and operate $14 million worth of solar installations in the state.

Clean energy developer Appalachian Solar Energy has been acquired by Vanir Energy LLC. The purchase means nearly $14 million will be invested in solar thermal technology projects throughout North Carolina in 2009, where Vanir Energy will own and operate the solar thermal systems it installs, allowing its customers to go solar without making capital expenditures.

Vanir Energy will be headquartered in Fletcher, N.C., and staffed by the former personnel of Appalachian Solar Energy with support from Vanir management in Sacramento, Calif. Executive Vice President Scott Clark said the first Vanir project will be a solar thermal installation at Fletcher Business Park, a 900,000-square-foot facility where the company is headquartered.

"With the Fletcher Business Park project, we're creating 58 jobs in less than 60 days," Clark said. The business park will be the largest installation of solar thermal heating and cooling technology in the world, according to the International Energy Agency.* The 640 panels will produce 1.5 megawatts of power. Vanir Energy will own and operate the system at no capital expenditure to Fletcher Business Park, a model the company plans to repeat across the state.

* Note: Fletcher Business Park will be the largest installation of solar thermal heating and cooling technology in the world, according to a database maintained by the Solar Heating and Cooling Program of the Paris-based International Energy Agency.