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A new thin-film amorphous photovoltaic manufacturing company has been formed under the Masdar Initiative, Abu Dhabi's renewable energy program, dubbed Masdar PV. The new company will initially invest $600 million in two separate SunFab turnkey 5.7 m2 module production lines supplied by Applied Materials in Erfurt, Germany and in Abu Dhabi. Total investment has been put as $2 billion with an expected capacity in excess of 1GW of annual production by 2014. The combined initial production capacity of the two sites was said to be 210 megawatts, with the capacity already committed to PV system installers in Europe and projects for Masdar itself.
"Thin-film PV is a key part of our build-deploy-develop strategy to actively build a strong position in alternative energy,” said Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, CEO of Masdar. “Abu Dhabi is a global energy leader, so it makes sense to engage these new energy technologies and become a leader in alternatives."
The first plant will be built in Erfurt, and will become operational in the third quarter of 2009. The facility will be used as a reference plant for technology and knowledge transfer to the larger Abu Dhabi plant by a joint German-Abu Dhabi team, Masdar said. The Abu Dhabi plant is expected to enter initial production by the second quarter of 2010.
"This potentially represents a paradigm shift in solar, a real game-changer," noted Dr. Winfried Hoffmann, President of the European Photovoltaic Industry Association, and Chief Technology Officer of the Solar Business Group of Applied Materials. "The entry of such powerful energy leaders into solar is very exciting, and could change the dynamics of the entire industry" by not only adding capacity but also new future big markets in and around the Middle East with a lot of sun and capital to deploy PV systems.”
Abu Dhabi intends to be a net exporter of PV modules in the future.