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GE Scraps Nation’s Largest Solar Panel Plant

Reposted from Product Design and Development


GE Scraps Nation’s Largest Solar Panel Plant

August 6, 2013  |  Product Design and Deveopment

General Electric Co. is permanently scrapping plans to build the largest solar factory in the U.S. 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 center 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 center, formerly a startup named PrimeStar, was in Arvada, another Denver suburb.

“We have decided that it is not in the best interest of GE, our customers or the Denver community to move forward with the build-out of this facility,” Thiel told the newspaper in an email.

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.


5 Responses to “GE Scraps Nation’s Largest Solar Panel Plant”

  1. I am in the business of installing solar PV systems. My company sells and installs only components made in USA. Every week I get emails from solar distributors offering me imported panels for as little as 60% of the cost that I pay for US-made panels. Often the ad email says things like “container volume” or, just 2 days ago (at prices that make it very difficult for my all-American systems to compete in the market): “Seeing an increasing shortage of stocked modules we are slated to have regular shipments of ETs arriving through the end of the year.” ET Solar panels are made in China. Meanwhile SolarWorld, a premier made-in-USA brand, just laid off 100 people by shutting their Oregon silicon wafer plant and now imports the silicon cells from Germany “and the open market” (China) for their “made in USA’ solar panels.

    So-called “free trade” is ruining America’s economy and our long-term ability to have prosperity for our people. But Wall Street and both political parties have never been so awash in the cash from the globalized corporations that love “free trade.”

  2. TomT says:

    Where is the USTR? Is he sleeping again?

  3. Hi Tom, Since you ask “where is the USTR?” I did the research. He is in Japan and Brunei this month, working on the Trans-Pacific Partnership that will offshore even more American manufacturing and other high-value-added operations, destroying more American jobs.

    Read it and weep:

  4. Stan Sorscher says:

    Last week, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers met in Portland. A speaker in one session showed how China’s subsidized production of solar panels is now at 3 times the global demand, driving down prices, and wiping out unsubsidized producers around the world, including many small producers in China.

    China now controls 85% of the solar market.

    China chose to dominate this market, and they have done just that.

  5. Mo says:

    To understand the economics of energy one has to look at the EROEI which is the Energy Return on Energy Invested Ratio. After looking at the EROEI it seems its really coal that runs the whole show.

    EROEI of different Energy mechanisms

    Hydro 11:1 to 267:1
    Coal 50:1
    Oil (Ghawar supergiant field) 100:1
    Oil (global average) 19:1
    Natural gas 10:1
    Wind 18:1
    Wave 15:1
    Solar Photovoltaic 3.75:1 to 10:1
    Geothermal 2:1 to 13:1
    Tidal 6:1
    Tar sands 5.2:1 to 5.8:1
    Oil shale 1.5:1 to 4:1
    Nuclear 1.1:1 to 15:1
    Biodiesel 1.9:1 to 9:1
    Solar thermal 1.6:1
    Ethanol 0.5:1 to 8:1

    *Note these charts on different sites that show EROI may vary because there is no agreed-upon standard on which activities should be included in measuring the EROEI of an economic process. So possibly not all inputs that go into producing an energy source have been included. Also recently it was estimated that shale gas which is natural gas recovered from shale formations through hydraulic fracturing technology and horizontal drilling, may have an EROEI of 64:1 to 112:1 but this is still under analysis because at the well EROEI is high but after transporting and compressing the gas the net energy return declines.


    Energy Return on Energy Invested

    Energy Return on Energy Invested


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