GE enters the Thin-Film Solar Photovoltaic Market

General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) said today it will spend $600 million to build the largest thin-film photovoltaic (PV) solar panel factory in the U.S. and that 60 megawatts (MW) of the facility’s 400 MW total annual capacity has been contracted to NextEra Energy Inc. (NYSE: NEE). The company did not disclose the proposed location of the plant. GE also said that a full-size, thin film solar panel developed by the company has been independently certified as the most efficient ever publicly reported for the technology.

The panel was produced by PrimeStar Solar, Inc., a thin film solar technology company in Arvada, Colorado, acquired by GE.

PrimeStar Solar is bringing to market the latest thin film PV module technology

PrimeStar Solar’s product will be a 60 cm x 120 cm frameless glass-glass photovoltaic (PV) module that is optimized for use in large scale grid connected installations.

  • The modules will undergo rigorous safety and reliability testing to achieve the following certifications:
    • UL 1703
    • IEC 61646
    • TUV Safety Class II
    • CE Mark
  • The frameless modules are designed to withstand weather extremes such as snow, hail, and wind while being more cost effective than traditional framed modules
  • The modules have a robust glass-glass laminate design that will stand up to climate extremes of temperature, humidity, and UV
  • The thin film semiconductor technology performs well in high temperature and low light situations
  • The modules will be well suited for both rooftop and ground mounted applications
  • The modules have been designed for recyclability at the end of their useful life
  • PrimeStar Solar PV modules will be manufactured on highly automated continuous flow lines to achieve high yields while minimizing manufacturing costs READ MORE

GE says the panel was measured by the National Renewable Energy Lab at a 12.8% aperture area efficiency. This panel surpasses all previously published records for CdTe (cadmium telluride) thin film, which is the most affordable solar technology in the industry. GE says its goal is to offer advanced solar products while reducing the total cost of electricity for utilities and consumers. The company says a 1% increase in efficiency is equal to an approximate 10% decrease in system cost.

GE says global demand for photovoltaics is expected to grow by 75,000 MW over the next five years, with utility-scale solar power plants making up a significant part of that growth.

NextEra claims to be the largest generator of renewable energy in the U.S. NextEra (formerly FPL Group, Inc.) has power generation capacity of 42,678 MW, comprised of natural gas, 59%; wind, 17.7%; nuclear, 12.9%; oil, 7%; coal, 2.2%; hydro, 0.8%; and solar 0.4%. NextEra’s solar capacity now stands at 173 MW.

GE also said it has signed a 20 MW agreement with Chicago-based Invenergy Wind LLC for the supply of thin film solar panels and GE Brilliance inverters. Invenergy will install the solar products at a project site in Illinois. Invenergy claims to be nation’s largest independent wind power generation company, with more than 2,200 MW of capacity. Overall, Invenergy and its affiliated companies have developed and placed in service 20 wind farms and five natural gas-fueled generating facilities (total capacity of 5,000 MW).
Original Article on Energy Boom cross posted

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