USA’s Largest Solar Panel Plant

DFN: Same technology (Cadmium) as First Solar, counter to Evergreen’s shutting down its US plant.

Renewable Energy News: GE To Construct USA’s Largest Solar Panel Plant
Renewable Energy News
FRIDAY 08 APRIL, 2011 |
GE To Construct USA’s Largest Solar Panel Plant

by Energy Matters

GE Energy has announced it will build America’s largest solar manufacturing plant, which will produce the company’s new high-efficiency thin film solar panel.

With a 400-megawatt capacity, the new solar manufacturing plant will become the largest domestic facility in the USA, employing 400 people and bolstering GE’s position as a major global producer of renewable energy technology.

GE’s new solar panel has been certified as having the highest ever recorded efficiency for a CdTe (cadmium telluride) thin film solar module, with a 13 percent light-to-energy conversion rate. The result was measured by the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), surpassing all previously published records for CdTe thin film.

While thin film modules have traditionally been the cheapest on a per-panel basis, they have also offered far less conversion efficiency compared to polycrystalline and monocrystalline panels; occupying a larger rooftop footprint in order to generate the same amount of electricity.

According to Victor Abate, vice president of GE’s renewable energy business, reducing price is the key to solar energy uptake. The company says that by increasing efficiency of solar panels by a single percent, production costs decrease by ten percent.

"We are addressing the biggest barrier for the mainstream adoption of solar technology—cost—and the NREL certification proves that we are on track to deliver the most affordable solutions for our customers."

Although a final site has yet to be decided for the new manufacturing plant, GE estimates it will produce enough solar panels per year to power 80,000 homes each year. The company has already locked in deals for more than 100 megawatts of solar thin film products, including panels, inverters and total solar power plants.
Mr Abate says the new plant is just the beginning for GE’s solar future.

"Our plan to open a U.S. solar manufacturing facility further demonstrates our confidence in this technology and is just the first phase in a global, multi-gigawatt roadmap."

GE’s renewable energy arm also has a significant presence in the wind power sector – the company says it has over 15,500 wind turbine installations globally.

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