Earlier today, our very own General Electric Company hit a huge milestone- it has achieved the highest reported efficiency for a full-size thin film solar panel. With this, they plan to build what would be the largest solar panel manufacturing plant in the United States, according to the Times Union.

More than $600 million is planned to be invested into GE's new plant, which will be capable of producing 400 megawatts (one megawatt is the equivalent of powering 800 homes) of solar panels annually. Though a location for the plant hasn't yet been chosen, a GE spokesman said the Capital Region is a sure contender. After all, GE's headquarters and plant are here, so why not build the new solar plant here as well?

Victor Abate, vice president of GE's renewable energy business, said the company hopes to decide on a location for its new plant in the next 90 to 100 days. Production of solar panels would begin by 2013, he said.
A number of rather large factors would need to go into the selection process for the new site:
  • The site's economics
  • The cost and availability of utilities
  • Power and water cost and availability
  • The supply chain for necessary materials
  • Federal, state and local incentives
  • The site's proximity to scientific and engineering talent

GE stated that nearly 13 percent efficiency had been achieved by its thin film panel, meaning that the panel converted 13 percent of sunlight into electricity.

GE [also] said each one percent increase in solar panel efficiency translates into a 10 percent reduction in the cost of the system. Abate said cost was the biggest barrier for the mainstream adoption of solar technology.

Now that GE has mostly solved the cost issue, this is a huge feat for the company, and they can now start developing ideas and plans for the new plant.

GE also announced earlier today that they have more than 100 megawatts of new orders for its solar panels, which are constructed by depositing thin layers of photovoltaic material on a substrate, or base, the Times Union stated.

In GE's case, the photovoltaic material was cadmium telluride.

Congratulations to our hometown's trademark company and their new found success and future plant! Yay to solar panels and solar energy!

How do you feel about solar panels and about GE's plans?