U.S. Department of Energy

    Innovative Solar Manufacturing Plant Opens in Canada

    June 30, 2004

    ATS Automation Tooling Systems Inc. opened Canada's first full-scale solar cell manufacturing plant on June 23rd. The new highly automated plant is capable of producing 20 megawatts of solar cells per year using the company's innovative Spheral Solar technology, in which thousands of silicon beads are bonded within sheets of aluminum foil. The result is a lightweight, flexible solar cell that could potentially be produced at lower costs because of the low amount of silicon used to produce each solar cell. See the ATS press release and the description of the manufacturing process on the Web site of Spheral Solar Power, an ATS subsidiary.

    Spheral Solar technology was originally developed at Texas Instruments Inc. in the early 1990s. In July 2002, ATS announced that it was going to commercialize the process. See the story from the July 24th, 2002, edition of the EERE Network News.

    Solar manufacturing is also continuing to increase in the United States. In April, Evergreen Solar announced that it had doubled its manufacturing capacity to 6 megawatts per year, and on June 21st, DayStar Technologies, Inc. announced it will build an 18,000-square-foot manufacturing and research facility in Saratoga, New York. The New York State Department of Economic Development lured DayStar to New York from its present location in California by offering state and local economic incentives worth as much as $11 million. See the press releases from Evergreen Solar and DayStar Technologies.

    The solar manufacturing news should provide plenty to talk about at the National Solar Energy Conference 2004 (also called SOLAR 2004), to be held in Portland from July 9th to the 14th, and Solar Power 2004, coming to San Francisco in late October. See the SOLAR 2004 and Solar Power 2004 Web sites.