GE to build 400 MW thin film factory; sets new CdTe record

The National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) has independently verified the cadmium telluride thin film panel as having a 12.8 percent aperture area efficiency.

Now, GE says it intends to produce it at its planned manufacturing facility. It adds that when complete, it will be the biggest solar panel factory in the U.S., and will employ 400 people. In terms of location, the company explains that multiple sites are being considered. The final decision is expected to be announced shortly.

In a statement, GE adds: "When complete, the factory will highlight an expected $600 million plus investment made by GE in solar technology and commercialization, and will be complemented by the recently announced acquisition of power conversion company Converteam."

Furthermore, Victor Abate, vice president of GE’s renewable energy business has hinted that the factory is just the first phase in a "global, multi-gigawatt roadmap".

Acquisition

In other news, GE has completed the acquisition of PrimeStar Solar, Inc., a thin film solar technology company in which it has held a majority equity stake since 2008.

The "record setting" photovoltaic panel was manufactured on the recently acquired company’s 30 MW manufacturing line in Arvada, Colorado. The technology was transitioned to PrimeStar from NREL following the signing of a cooperative research and development agreement in 2007.

Commenting, Ryne Raffaelle, director of the National Center for Photovoltaics at NREL, said: "Milestones like these are pivotal as the United States looks to drive widespread adoption of solar technologies. It’s great to see technology that started at NREL ready to move into the market."

New agreements

GE has also announced more than 100 MW of new commercial agreements for solar thin film products, including panels, inverters and total solar power plants. The company says its largest solar agreement to date is with NextEra Energy for 60 MW of thin film solar panels.

Furthermore, it has signed a 20 MW solar agreement with Invenergy for the supply of thin film solar panels and inverters. Invenergy, a Chicago-based company, will install the solar products at a project site in Illinois.