GE scraps plans for largest solar panel plant in US
First Solar acquire's GE's technology for making thin film panels for $82 million.
AURORA, Colo. – General Electric Co. (GE) is permanently scrapping plans to build the largest solar factory in the US near Denver.
GE blamed the cancellation on a glut of solar panels on the market and falling prices, The Denver Post reported Tuesday.
The factory was to have been bigger than 11 football fields and have an annual capacity of 400 megawatts. State officials said it would create 350 jobs.
GE put the project on hold last month.
A research centre that developed the thin-film solar-cell technology for the plant will be closed, with 50 people losing their jobs, according to Lindsay Thiel, a GE spokeswoman. The research centre, formerly a startup named PrimeStar, was in Arvada, another Denver suburb.
At least 10 states were vying for the PrimeStar plant in 2011. GE said it would go to Aurora that fall, and company executives attended the next year’s State of the State address by Gov. John Hickenlooper, who personally cited the plant in his speech.
Thiel said the company has decided to permanently end plans for the plant.
“With the continued price declines of and overcapacity for solar panels, solar module manufacturing is very competitive, and only the most competitive technology at the most competitive cost position will succeed,” Thiel said.
GE has also announced it will join First Solar Inc. in solar thin-film solar panel technologies in an effort to improve efficiency and decrease costs.
First Solar will acquire GE’s technology for making thin film panels. In return, GE will receive 1.75 million shares of First Solar stock. That represents $82 million, and 2% of First Solar’s outstanding shares.
First Solar is the world’s largest producer of thin-film panels and among the world’s largest solar farm developers. GE’s thin-film technology has performed well in lab tests, but is not manufactured at large scale.
First Solar will attempt to incorporate GE’s technology into its extensive and well-developed manufacturing process. GE will purchase and brand First Solar panels for its own installations.
©The Canadian Press