9 April 2010


Spire to provide PV module manufacturing line to Solartech

Spire Corp of Bedford, MA, USA, which provides production equipment and turnkey production lines for manufacturing photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules as well as engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) services for solar systems, has entered into a contract to provide a turnkey PV module manufacturing line to Solartech Renewables LLC.

Solartech was formed in 2009 to establish a plant for making PV panels and array configuration hardware in the Tech City complex in Kingston, NY. The facility is described as a team effort between Solartech, Spire and The Solar Energy Consortium (TSEC).

The line will include Spire’s equipment, process knowledge, training and module certification assistance. Solartech will begin production using Spire’s 60-cell, 220W module design.

When completed in 2010, the plant will have an annual capacity of more than 12MW of solar panels. At this capacity utilization rate, the project should create more than 100 new full-time permanent jobs.

“We chose Spire because they are renowned for their technology and unfailing support,” comments Solartech’s CEO Todd Roberts. “As an American company, they also have the best ability to understand our needs and support us throughout the launch and ramp up of the factory.”

Solartech plans to enter the solar market using proven polycrystalline silicon production technology. However, most of the manufacturing processes for polycrystalline solar panels are also needed for thin-film panels (and even prospective polymer and nanotech panels). Conversion of the factory to thin-film technologies in the future — e.g. amorphous silicon (aSi), copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) or cadmium telluride (CdTe) — could therefore be accomplished with additional capital investment and a relatively modest expansion in floor space, reckons the firm. 

Solartech adds that the last step of the manufacturing chain (configuration of the panels into arrays in the field to produce usable power) is largely the same regardless of the underlying technology used to design and produce the solar panels. So, proprietary configuration hardware and designs will be applicable to all current and future solar panel designs, and hence proprietary intellectual property will continue into the future even as underlying solar panel material and design technolo gies mature, reckons the firm.

“ Solartech is responding to the need for more US-based manufacturing for PV modules,” says Spire’s chairman & CEO Roger Little. “With the federal and state incentives for PV systems now in place, the US market has become the fastest growing in the world. It is projected to be more than 2GW by 2011, with as much as a 1GW shortfall of US-based manufacturing,” he adds.

See related item:

Spire awarded $2m from DOE tax credit program

Search: Spire PV module Solartech