GE Delays Thin-film Manufacturing Plant

July 04, 2012 by Jeff Shepard

General Electric (GE) announced that it is delaying its Aurora, Colorado thin-film manufacturing plant 18 months in reaction to the continued drop in crystalline silicon solar panels. In October, the company had initially unveiled a plan for a 400MW facility that would produce cadmium telluride (CdTe) panels.

GE’s plan was to build a $300 million plant that would be the largest in the country. It was to open in 2013 for its Primestar thin-film solar panel technology. The factory was slated to employ 335 people, and to begin shipping to customers in 2013.

Work will be halted for at least 18 months, Danielle Merfeld, the general manager of solar technologies, told reporters. "Over the past six months, the industry has shifted pretty rapidly," Merfeld said. "We’ve seen about a 50 percent price drop for modules over this period and there’s a lot of unabated overcapacity out there."

GE, which draws about 30 percent of sales from energy businesses including wind and solar, says it will use the delay to modify the plant’s design and focus on boosting the efficiency of its solar modules.