GE is to build what it calls “America’s largest solar module factory” in Colorado, with production planned from 2012, despite the PV market’s faltering growth and dominance by low-cost Chinese products.

The plant is part of a $600m investment by GE in its solar business.

Vic Abate, vice-president of GE’s renewable energy business, said that advanced thin-film technology would enable GE to compete on price with modules based on more labour-intensive crystalline silicon wafers.

Solar panels from the new factory also will be more efficient as well as lighter and larger than conventional thin film panels, said GE.

Average retail prices for PV panels have slipped since last year and the global solar market is also expected to contract slightly, said Abate. He estimated that the next five years would bring 75 GW, while this year alone is forecast to see installations of 20–24 GW.

The factory in Aurora, Colorado, will be near to a pilot plant built by PrimeStar, a solar company that GE bought fully this year after holding a majority stake since 2008.

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