GT Solar expands manufacturing, doubles size of factory, news report says

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GT Solar has opened a 50,000-square-foot expansion at its manufacturing site, doubling the size of the factory to 106,000 square feet, according to a news story in the Sept. 26 online edition of the New Hampshire Union-Leader. Company CEO Thomas Zarrella also told the paper that the plant is increasing its monthly production output from 40 to 75 furnaces.

Company CEO Thomas Zarrella said the expansion will enable GT Solar to hire 50 more assemblers, engineers, technical, and service workers this year, adding to the plant’s existing workforce of 270 employees (including temporary workers). The executive also said it will ramp up output further, if demand is there. GT Solar has $1.3 billion in backlog orders and is projecting $600 million–$650 million in annual revenues.

“The question I am hearing is how are we going to grow fast enough to support the orders we already have,” Zarrella told the paper. “The cost of photovoltaic cells is coming down 5 to 7 percent a year, solar energy is 25 cents per kilowatt hour, and I think we are going to see grid parity in some places in three to four years.”

The CEO also said in the news report that the expanded section of the plant will include a
dedicated area for R&D. GT Solar engineers are
working on new technology that will make a significant leap to reduce
the costs and improve the productivity of solar cells, he noted, including finishing designs and beginning to order materials for a next-generation silicon furnace and 400-ton polysilicon reactor.

The story said that contracting firm Arenco, which built the first phases of GT Solar’s plant in the 1990s, completed the steel-beam construction for the new expansion in nine months. It subcontracted work to regional companies Luk and Sons, Celtic Electric, and Fairview Millwork.

GT Solar announced earlier this month that it had signed a $173 million contract with DC Chemicals to supply polysilicon CVD reactors to the South Korean company.

— Tom Cheyney

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