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ATS Automation Tooling Systems Inc. launches pilot solar project in Western China

February 12, 2001 | General
CAMBRIDGE, ON, Feb. 12 /CNW/ - ATS Automation Tooling Systems Inc. today announced the start of an exciting pilot project that will provide solar electricity to rural homes in Western China through the use of ATS's photovoltaic technology. The pilot project, being undertaken with government and private industry partners, expands on the success of an on-going project on photovoltaic renewable energy that was started over a year ago.

"ATS is a world leader in the development and manufacture of photovoltaic energy products, and we are very proud of this project, one of the largest of its kind in China," said Klaus Woerner, President and CEO of ATS. "When completed, this project may provide electricity to 15,000 or more rural family homes in the western provinces of China. This pilot project is a strong endorsement of our leading renewable energy photovoltaic solar technology and is an important next step in providing affordable energy to remote areas of China and other parts of the world."

The project is the culmination of efforts by ATS, the Canadian Government's Technology Early Action Measures Program, and Chinese partners Xining New Energy Development Company and China Renewable Energy Industry Association. The total estimated project costs are approximately Cdn $2.9 million, of which 90% will be borne by the Chinese partners.

"This partnership between China, the Canadian Government and ATS is an example of the kind of support and co-operation necessary to effectively meet the challenges arising from global climate change," said Mr. Woerner. "The development of Canada's renewable energy industry is fundamental to meeting Canada's commitment to reducing greenhouse gases. Continued support from all levels of government in Canada will be necessary if we are to position ourselves as a future leader in the rapidly growing solar energy industry."

Photovoltaic technology is particularly useful in remote areas of developing countries, where the population is often scattered across large geographic areas and where electric grids are virtually non-existent. China, for instance, still has nearly 25% of its villages and 15 million families (70 million people) in rural areas without any access to electricity. In addition to this, there are many islands off the coast of China where the sole power source is often a diesel generator, which is noisy, polluting, expensive and unreliable since fuel has to be boated in from the mainland. ATS's photovoltaic solar panels provide a clean, renewable, low maintenance source of energy and further reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by displacing kerosene lamps, burning of wood and dried animal waste and associated emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2). Solar panels generate GHG benefits each year over their expected life of 20 or more years in harsh outdoor conditions. It is estimated that between the years 2000 and 2010, solar home systems for remote areas in China will present a 130 MW, or about $1.4 billion (Cdn) market.

About ATS

ATS Automation Tooling Systems Inc. (atsautomation.com) is a world- leading producer and designer of turn-key automated manufacturing and test systems used primarily by Fortune 500 companies and other multinational corporations in computer-electronics, automotive, healthcare, consumer products and other major industries. It is also a high volume contract manufacturer of precision components and sub-assemblies for microelectronics and automotive. Through its investments in Matrix Solar Technologies Inc. and Photowatt International SA, ATS is a leading manufacturer and supplier of solar wafers, cells and panels for photovoltaic energy applications. With its headquarters in Cambridge, Ontario, ATS employs 3200 people at 25 facilities in Canada, Asia, United States, and Europe. It is a publicly traded company on The Toronto Stock Exchange and included in the TSE-100 index. In its fiscal year ended March 31, 2000, ATS reported consolidated revenues of Cdn $530 million.

Certain forward looking statements are made in this news release, including statements regarding possible future business. Investors are cautioned that such forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties, including, without limitation, continued acceptance of ATS' products, technologies, customer requirements and other risks detailed from time to time in ATS' periodic reports filed with Canadian regulatory authorities.

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For further information:
Carl Galloway, ATS Corporate Treasurer
(519) 653 6500