GE puts CdTe plant on hold

Forbes reported the development yesterday, on the basis of news that GE was laying off workers at the site. GE Energy has since confirmed with pv magazine that the decision was made over the past month to halt construction and fit-out at the site and concentrate on R&D efforts. GE Energy’s Lindsay Theile commented, "This technology will reach a far higher efficiency level and more competitive cost position, and will require modifications to the plant design currently underway."

GE has achieved a module-efficiency record of 12.8 percent with its CdTe technology, which it began working on after acquiring PrimeStar – first in a majority stake in 2008, and then outright in April 2011. With this lagging well behind crystalline-silicon (c-Si) rivals, who have also able to reduce costs radically, due to low polysilicon prices and gigawatt-scale production, GE has chosen to develop its technology further before entering into commercial production. GE Energy will not reveal what its cost-per-Watt.

"Our solar team in Colorado and New York will focus on developing the next generation of solar module technology, which will reach a far higher efficiency level and more competitive cost position," said Theile. In terms of layoffs, she indicated, "We are sizing our team accordingly based on this focus on technology development."

GE Energy maintains that it remains committed to photovoltaics in general and also in its CdTe thin film technology. "GE’s position remains that thin-film is the cost-leader in the solar industry and CdTe is our technology of choice," said Theile.