GE moves the thin film goal post…

GE announced today a 400megawatt thin film plant to be constructed in Colorado.

The panels will apparently have more efficiency, less weight and larger surface area than standard thinfilm modules, using the same CdTe recipe as First Solar. They appear to be starting production in early 2012 with a targeted initial efficiency of 14% per module! So let’s get this straight, in a market which is saturated, oversupplied and losing money across several parts of the value chain, GE goes full throttle to invest over $300Million and dive head first into a plant located not in China, but right in Colorado! What sense?

Well perhaps the sense is that all markets ebb and flow, and their technology and ability to drive business will buffer them from the risks that come along with such a play. I don’t know what this means for smaller players like Sunlogics or the smaller Chinese thin film makers who are currently quoting pricing lower than $0.85per watt for UL approved modules. If you are losing money on every module you make….why make them?

With the Solar Power International show coming up in Dallas next week, this solar blog writer sure is curious to see what everyone has to say about these developments. In the 23 years I’ve been in this industry, I have been to shows when there were oversupply and overdemand situations, so they both bring their measure of predictability and yet always a few surprises too. I doubt it wasn’t intentional that GE made this announcement today.

Look for more next week….

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