The plans to build the factory were actually made this past April, but a location had not been settled on until recently. Aurora, Colorado - a suburb of Denver - is the energy giant's choice, due to proximity to testing lines and available space. However, considering the current climate for solar panel production, the venture is a risky one.
Low-cost photovoltaics have led to considerable fallout in the solar market. Some of the biggest solar panel producers in the U.S. recently succumbed to bankruptcy - due in large part to the reduced prices coming out of Asian markets. Many of them having also received large government loans.
But GE intends to drop prices even further and still turn a profit, looking to its successes with wind as an example.
Says Vic Abate, GE's Vice President of Renewable Energy, ""It's a challenging industry for sure, but the cost of solar had to come down for it to become a mainstream power source."
The factory - which will be larger than 11 football fields and pack an annual capacity of 400 MW (enough to power 11,000 homes) - will be built without government subsidies and will produce "thin film" panels from cadmium telluride.
Similar to panels built by First Solar, they are less efficient at converting the sun's rays into electricity than traditional crystalline silicon panels, but are cheaper to manufacture and therefore produce power at a lower cost.
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