BP Solar Expands Australian Facility

BP Solar has put the finishing touches on their expanded solar plant in Australia. The addition of new automated production machinery worth some US$12 million to the hi-tech factory will result in production increasing by 40 percent to an annual output of 35 MW.

Sydney, Australia – November 20, 2002 [SolarAccess.com] Already a major employer in the area, this investment has resulted in an increase in employment to over 300 people and makes the factory the southern hemisphere’s largest solar manufacturing plant. Further expansion is largely dependent on growth in Australia’s residential and commercial roof-top, grid-connected systems. The potential for growth is enormous, as Australia is blessed with one of the world’s sunniest climates and comparatively few urban homes have been fitted with solar panels. German and Japanese governments have been major supporters of solar power. These countries’ households account for about 40 and 50 percent respectively of the world’s grid-connected solar systems, with Australia accounting for less than one percent. Widespread adoption of grid-connected solar systems for homes in Australia would create jobs in the solar industry and reduce the country’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. “Today is an important step for BP Solar as we continue to grow our business here in Australia,” said Daniel Brunelli-Brondex, regional vice president, BP Solar. “But for Australia to fully capitalize on its abundant solar resources we must work with government to help homeowners and businesses make the transition to solar power and drive growth in clean energy solutions.” BP Solar moved into the US$20 million facility in 2000 and in the past two years output from the plant has tripled. The investment in the facility comprises: -Leading-edge vapor deposition equipment that deposits an anti-reflection layer on the silicon cell surface in an environment of highly activated hydrogen. By reducing reflection, the cells trap more sunlight; the activated hydrogen improves the silicon semiconductor properties. The overall effect significantly improves the efficiency of the cells -Automatic handling equipment for loading and unloading cells into the equipment at high speed – this improves factory throughput and production yield -Extensive factory refurbishment, reactive gas installation and clean room facilities
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