SunPower has chosen GE to provide the ultrapure water systems for the new SunPower-AUO joint-venture Fab 3 solar-cell fabrication plant under construction in Malaysia. The UPW equipment will save more than 230 million gallons (>870 million liters) of water relative to other technologies, the companies said.
The facility will be one of the largest silicon solar manufacturing factory in the world and is expected to begin operations near the end of 2010 and ramp production during the following two years. The facility is located 20km north of Melaka, Malaysia, in a region that has experienced prior water shortages and drought.
GE will design, supply, and install the advanced UPW system featuring the internationally patented high-efficiency reverse-osmosis (HERO) process. The system, operating on a challenging and variable feedwater source, will provide 2400 gal/min (9085 L/min)of ultrapure water for manufacturing.
“SunPower is committed to helping protect the quantity and quality of our water resources, and we’re proud that, with GE, we’re able to achieve new environmental and performance benchmarks in our industry,” said Rob Vinje, managing director of the solar company. “SunPower’s unique PV manufacturing process produces the highest-efficiency solar cells on the market today, and we expect the same from our water systems.
“Our collaboration with GE on this project will not only benefit our community, but ultimately our customers as we continue to drive down the cost and impact of manufacturing,” he added.
“With operating efficiencies exceeding 90%, the HERO system will not only conserve water, but through advances in technology and its implementation, we’ll also see an immediate positive return on environment for our customer,” said Jeff Connelly, VP of engineered systems—water and process technologies for GE Power & Water.