Aurora, Colo., October 13, 2011 — GE plans to build its new solar panel factory in Aurora, Colorado. When completed, the manufacturing facility will create 355 jobs in Colorado.
GE anticipates the new factory will first start up earlier than expected with the first panels coming off the line in 2012 with commercial availability in 2013.
GE will locate the factory in an existing building in Aurora, just east of Denver. This location, which also is in proximity to GE's existing solar energy center of excellence, enables an accelerated start-up schedule with production equipment installation beginning in January 2012.
At capacity, the new factory will produce enough panels per year to power 80,000 homes and will be larger than 11 football fields. When complete, the new solar factory will highlight a $600 million investment in GE's solar business.
Colorado already is home to GE Energy's thin film solar pilot line, where joint technology advancements from GE's Global Research Center and PrimeStar Solar have been validated and tested. GE completed the acquisition of PrimeStar earlier this year.
Solar panels produced in GE's new Colorado factory also will be more efficient, lighter weight and larger than conventional thin film panels. Higher efficiency is a key component of GE's commitment to offer advanced solar products while reducing the total cost of electricity for utilities and consumers.
Lighter panels will facilitate easier installation and enable important applications including commercial rooftop. Larger-sized panels help to lower total system cost by reducing the amount of racking and electrical components required.
GE has dramatically grown its wind business through technology and scale since entering the space in 2002 and anticipates a similar trajectory for solar given recent technology breakthroughs. GE has more than 27 GW of wind and solar resources installed around the world.
In addition to thin film solar panels, GE offers power electronics and pre-designed utility-scale solar power plants for use in multi-megawatt applications. Power electronics are critical to bringing renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, into the mainstream, delivering economies of scale and providing stable connection to the grid. The recent acquisition of Converteam will add the company's energy conversion technologies to GE's solar offerings, further broadening GE's portfolio.