General Electric has announced plans to build the nation’s largest photovoltaic panel factory, a major piece in the company’s new $600 million investment in solar technology.
GE is considering several locations for the 400-megawatt plant, which would begin producing thin-film photovoltaic panels, made of cadmium telluride, by 2013.
Although less efficient than conventional solar panels, the technology lends itself to low-cost, high-volume production and has proven to be popular with developers and utilities operating large-scale solar plants.
At capacity, the GE facility would produce enough solar panels to power 80,000 homes annually, company officials said. “We are addressing the biggest barrier for the mainstream adoption of solar technology: cost,” said Victor Abate, vice president of GE’s renewable energy business.
The Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory recently certified the thin-film panel at a 12.8 percent aperture area efficiency, compared with 16 to 20 percent efficiency for conventional panels.
Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.