GE to Produce Thin-Film Solar Panels
General Electric, already a major player in many other energy industries, announced last week that it is developing a line of thin-film solar panels and accompanying equipment. GE will be partnering with PrimeStar Solar, a manufacturer of thin-film solar panels, on this project. PrimeStar Solar is an American company with facilities in Colorado and Michigan that was founded independently in 2006. GE bought a majority share of the company in 2008. The thin-film solar panels will be produced at Primestar's 30-megawatt facility in Arvada, Colorado. GE and PrimeStar expect to produce and release these panels next year.
The new thin-film solar panels will be made with cadmium-telluride cells, instead of the silicon cells used in non-thin film solar panels. According to GE's solar research and development leader, Danielle Merfeld, the cadmium-telluride cells recently topped 15% efficiency when used on commercial glass. GE plans to continue to improve the efficiency of their cadmium telluride-cells, thereby making solar energy even more cost-effective. This would make solar energy a more viable option for users in a variety of areas and situations.
GE will be coupling its Brilliance inverters, which are currently used with GE wind turbines, with the thin-film solar panels. The Brilliance inverters, which come in 700-kilowatt or 1-megawatt varieties, convert direct current to alternating current. They include a control system and a performance monitoring unit, which makes operating a large number of panels much easier.
GE is planning to phase out its development of silicon solar panels in favor of the cadmium-telluride thin-film solar panels. GE plans to make its thin-film solar panels appropriate for use with utility-scale solar projects, as well as for individual consumers.