GE Enters Solar Power Market In A Big Way

GE has made a series of announcements that indicate its energy division is making some big moves in the solar power business. According to its  recent statement GE has developed the highest efficiency, full-sized CdTe thin film solar panel ever reported; is building what its say will be the largest solar panel factory in the US; has made two considerable business acquisitions that support its solar endeavors and has taken 100 megawatts worth of orders for its thin-film solar panel products.

GE says it developed a full-size, thin-film solar panel product that has been independently certified as the most efficient ever publicly reported. The panel, which is rated for 12.8% efficiency, was produced on the PrimeStar 30-megawatt manufacturing line in Arvada, Colorado and was measured by the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL). GE maintains that the CdTe thin film type solar panel is the most affordable solar technology currently available.

image via PG&E

The new panel is to be produced at a new 400 megawatt manufacturing facility that GE claims will be the largest of its kind in the U.S. When at capacity, the new plant is supposed to produce enough panels per year to power 80,000 homes annually. GE currently estimates the facility will employ about 400 people. No word yet on where the factory is to be located, though renewable energy friendly states like Oregon are vying for the plant to be built there.

Also contributing to GE’s rapidly expanding solar energy portfolio was the completion of its acquisition of PrimeStar Solar, which it previously had been majority owner of since 2008. With the PrimeStar acquisition completed, GE turned its attention to acquiring the  power conversion company, Converteam. The announcement was released earlier last week and indicates that GE Energy intends to acquire approximately 90% of Converteam for around $3.2 billion. The remaining 10% stake in the company will stay in the hands of its existing senior management for now. According to the statement, GE has struck a deal that will get it the remaining shares over the course of five years, a plan that GE expects shouldn’t cost any more than an additional $480 million.

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