February 19, 2009 Solar panel manufacture is a costly process making it difficult for solar electricity to compete with power generated from fossil fuels. One way of driving these costs down is through the production of larger panels, enabling installation costs to be reduced. To this end, Solar Panel Manufacturer T-Solar Global S.A. has just announced that it has begun volume production of the world’s largest solar photovoltaic (PV) modules using a SunFab™ Thin Film Line supplied by Applied Materials, Inc. The solar panels, sized at 5.7m2 or 2.3m X 2.6m are the equivalent to the combined area of over six, 42 inch plasma TV’s. T-Solar says that these large panels are ideally suited for solar farm applications where installation costs can be reduced by about 20% over smaller scale panels.
T-Solar Group is a technological driven business with a focus on generating green electricity from solar energy. T-Solar has invested more than €1 million in the project to produce the PV modules, using hydrogenated silicon thin film technology, at its new Ourense factory. The fully automated plant has an annual production capacity of 700,000 m2 of panels (about 123,000 individual panels), equivalent to 45 MW/year. T-Solar plans to eventually expand the line by 40% and expects to gain further production efficiencies and reduced material costs, enabling a further reduction in the cost of solar electricity production. The Group furthermore promotes, operates and exploits its own PV stations. They currently have 28 PV power stations in Spain capable of producing 200 GWh/year, which is equivalent to fulfilling the power needs of 59,000 homes.
T-Solar and Applied Materials have also entered into a multi-year service agreement that guarantees fixed maintenance costs and is aimed at driving constant improvement in line output. The SunFab Performance Service™ program is designed to foster a strong, long-term alliance between the companies, who say they are both committed to continuously improving factory uptime, product quality and yield.
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