Back to basics: GE suspends CdTe thin-film production plans



Several reports cite General Electric’s general manger of solar technology operations, Danielle Merfeld, saying that the company has suspended the construction and commercial roll-out of its CdTe thin-film modules due to the current market conditions. GE announced the location of its first thin-film plant in October 2011 which would have a nameplate capacity of 400MW and start commercial shipments in 2013. The facility was at the core of a US$600 million investment in entering the solar industry.

As revealed by Ucilia Wang, writing for Gigaom, GE has reduced its solar headcount and gone back to the lab to boost cell efficiencies and lower production costs. The plan is to achieve conversion rates of 15% or more before planning to return to production ramp plans sometime in 2014.

GE is potentially following the same course as rival Abound Solar, which also initially stopped pilot production of CdTe-based modules to focus on next generation high efficiency modules before re-entering the market.

However, Abound filed for bankruptcy a few months later. In the case of GE it could be a long-time before the company could guarantee it had a viable commercial product due to the continued pricing pressure and continued efficiency gains of crystalline silicon technology. 

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