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KUKA selected to build new solar panel assembly line


May 12, 2010
By Mary Del


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Michigan will soon make solar power history when it welcomes the first greenfield module assembly line in the world. The assembly line will employ silicone gel encapsulation instead of the more traditional EVA film.

The assembly line at the new Saginaw, MI-based photovoltaic panel manufacturing facility will be built by automation specialist KUKA Systems North America for GlobalWatt, Inc. Gel encapsulation represents a breakthrough in solar panel manufacturing. It reduces production time, can generate capital cost savings and improves the energy generation capacity of the panel.

The advanced module manufacturing line will be staged to a total of 250 megawatts of annual production capacity. The initial semi-automated line is estimated to cost under $10M and will be operational by November 2010 with production to begin in the first quarter of 2011.

“GlobalWatt is fortunate to have a quality and experienced supplier like KUKA Systems in Michigan. Both companies working together can meet the growing energy demands for high end solar modules to build a mutually beneficial relationship. Our business is to integrate high performance photovoltaic modules for applications in defense, emergency power, distributed utility, telecommunica-tions and other markets,” remarks Sanjeev Chitre, CEO of GlobalWatt, Inc.

Larry Drake, CEO of KUKA Systems states: “We welcome GlobalWatt  to Michigan, joining us in forming part of the state’s emerging Solar Valley. We look forward to our partnership with them in developing the world’s first greenfield liquid silicone encapsulation module line and creating employment in their Saginaw facility. We have the resources to meet the current and future solar manufacturing needs of GlobalWatt.”