AET: America's Largest Solar Thermal Manufacturer

December 3, 2015 2 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Providing turnkey commercial solar water heating solutions as well as pre-engineered residential systems, Alternative Energy Technologies, LLC. (AET) is the country's largest solar thermal manufacturer. Believe it or not, this 21st century manufacturing operation is based right here in the First Coast. Courtesy of the American Planning Association (APA) Florida First Coast Chapter, Metro Jacksonville takes a tour of AET's sustainable manufacturing facility.

Sustainability is a key factor in society today and Alternative Energy Technologies (AET) Solar strives to make this a more realistic effort for the everyday hot water user. From domestic residences, to apartment buildings, and even commercial properties, the technology being produced by AET Solar can help reduce emissions while saving money on utility bills.

AET Solar has been committed to the advancement of solar thermal technologies since 1975.  Having survived the solar thermal industry’s implosion of the early 1980’s through their international sales, AET Solar has positioned themselves as America’s largest solar thermal manufacturer. In July 2001, AET completed construction on their $3.5 million, 60,000 square-foot manufacturing facility in Green Cove Springs.

The main manufacturing focus lies in the state-of-the-art “flat plate” solar thermal collector. These collectors harness clean, efficient, renewable solar energy, to be used in domestic hot water and space heating applications.

Collectors and components are spread among our national supply reach through eight distributors and 400 independent dealers.  In turn, this provides thousands of indirect jobs throughout the United States, and over 60 direct jobs at AET's Green Cove Springs corporate headquarters.

As a true U.S. manufacturer, AET Solar strives to create ‘green’ jobs and reduce our dependency on fossil fuels. Over the years AET has continually improved their manufacturing techniques in order to provide the most efficient collector on the market. One of these advancements includes a solid state forge welding process which produces a molecular bond between the fin and tube. This highly efficient conductive bond is backed by a 30 year guarantee and is superior to any process used in the industry.

Further advances in the manufacturing process include an automated brazing line. This state-of-the-art machine was added to the production line in order to increase the quality and consistency of absorber plates, as well as increase the speed of production; hence, an increase in supply. The brazing line utilizes brass flux which eliminates carbon dioxide emitted to the environment making this a green process.

In addition, AET’s manufacturing facility includes a zero waste treatment line which reuses waste water for cooling and removes nickel from the plating discharge in its entirety. This green process allows 90% of the newly cleaned water to be reused, eliminating waste.

AET's future plans for the area include adding a new plant, creating 100 additional manufacturing jobs in the region. Here's a look inside their Green Cove Springs facility.

The AET tour was conducted as a part of the APA First Coast Section's Adaptive Brewuse series. This year-long trek takes interested Jaxons through innovative adaptive re-use projects throughout the region. The Green Cove Springs event included lunch at Green Cove Springs' city hall over discussion about the history of Green Cove Springs and a narrated walking tour of downtown. From there, Clay Transit took the group to Alternative Energy Technologies (AET), for a tour of their production facility.

From there, the group headed over to the Military Museum of North Florida and Clay County Port/Reynolds Park. Once known as Naval Air Station Green Cove Springs, prior to 1960, the decommissioned base was home to a U.S. Navy "Mothball Fleet". The three hour tour culminated with a walking tour of Spring Park, with a stop at Spring Park Coffee. Stay tuned for future events in the Adapative Brewuse series.

Next Page: AET Manufacturing Plant Photo Tour

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