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Solar Frontier K.K., a unit of Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K., may build a manufacturing plant for solar panels in New York as part of the state’s efforts to become a leader in clean energy innovation and manufacturing.

Tokyo-based Solar Frontier and the State University of New York College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, known as CNSE, signed an agreement to explore building a solar-panel plant in western New York and set up the company’s North American headquarters at CNSE in Albany, the college said Tuesday.

The initiative is expected to generate more than $678 million in investments over the course of seven years, CNSE said.

“Solar Frontier anticipates the creation of 250 direct research, development, and manufacturing jobs, and 700-1,000 indirect jobs from contractors and suppliers expected to locate in and around its New York facilities,” the college said.

Solar Frontier aims to start operations at the plant as early as 2017, the Nikkei newspaper reported on Wednesday.

“Establishing overseas production bases is at the core of our midterm growth plan,” Solar Frontier President Hiroto Tamai said in a separate statement on Wednesday.

Solar Frontier has three manufacturing plants in Miyazaki Prefecture and is building its fourth plant in Miyagi Prefecture.

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