$500M solar panel manufacturing facility set for Kingston

Thursday August 20, 2009
Written by Manufacturing AUTOMATION
After reviewing several locations, Everbrite Solar plans to locate its state-of-the-art ultra-high efficiency photovoltaic manufacturing facility in Kingston, Ont. The Toronto-based company is raising $500 million to invest in a highly specialized, robot-controlled manufacturing facility using leading-edge technology in the realm of "thin-film" solar module production.The planned plant will have an annual output of thin-film modules capable of generating 150 MW of clean solar power, and the company says it could generate more than 1,200 direct, indirect and induced "green collar" jobs in the Kingston area."With this next-generation optical and coating technology and mechanized production process," said Everbrite Solar president and CEO Karl Scherre, "generating clean solar power will, at last, be cost-competitive with electricity produced from the burning of fossil fuels."Within just the past three years, solar panel technology has improved in leaps and bounds. Traditional PV modules, composed of solid crystalline material, are being replaced in the market by modules constructed by depositing extremely thin layers of photosensitive materials onto a low-cost backing, such as glass, stainless steel or plastic. These thin-film modules are less costly and more efficient than their predecessors. Since the first generation of thin-film modules became available, researchers have been experimenting with different materials to increase the spectrum of light available for conversion to electricity, and the efficiency of the modules.Everbrite Solar’s "revolutionary" technology surpasses traditional thin-film modules by dramatically increasing the efficiency of the module, lowering costs significantly and eliminating the environmental hazards associated with the earlier generations.The facility isn’t all that’s new: The company will also seek a collaborative research agreement with Queen's University to engage a multi-disciplinary team of researchers "to help ensure that Everbrite continues to be at the forefront of photovoltaic technology." They intend to invest up to $25 million to build an experimental thin-film manufacturing facility to which the Queen's researchers will have access for their studies."Queen's participation in Everbrite Solar’s Kingston research and development community will ensure that the ultra-high efficiency thin-film modules produced by Everbrite will continue to improve and be best in class for quality, efficiency and production costs," Scherre said.By using a broader spectrum of light and thereby producing electricity for more hours daily–even on cloudy days–these modules are ideally suited to the Canadian climate. Demand for solar panels is expected to increase exponentially, and Everbrite is confident that the company will be in a strong position to capitalize on what is expected to be a $50 billion market by 2012."Here in Ontario, having a stable and home-grown supply of solar panels will help the province achieve its goal of shifting more of its electricity production to renewable sources of energy and make Ontario a leader in the field of solar power generation," Scherre said.

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