Thin-Film Plant Expansion, Presidential Visit

The Board of Directors of Energy Conversion Devices, Inc., the parent company of United Solar Ovonic, approved a plan to expand the solar module manufacturing capacity of Uni-Solar to 300 MW by 2010.

The first phase of the large expansion plan will include the construction of a third manufacturing facility with an annual capacity of 50 MW, which is expected to be operational in calendar year 2007. United Solar currently manufactures solar modules at a 25 MW production facility in Auburn Hills, Michigan, and is currently constructing a second 25 MW production facility also located in Auburn Hills. “Expanding our capacity should enable us to continue to strengthen our position in the rapidly growing market for solar power systems. Global demand for solar power systems is expected to grow in excess of 20% annually,” said Robert C. Stempel, Chairman and CEO of ECD Ovonics. “This plan should also enable us to achieve significant economies in sourcing and production by increasing the size and scale of our solar business.” Stanford R. Ovshinsky, President, Chief Scientist and Technologist of ECD Ovonics, said the company is taking advantage of the silicon shortage situation, which is cramping production in the traditional silicon-based solar sector but that does not effect their thin-film production. “Our previously announced capacity expansion, which is already in progress, will allow us to double our capacity in calendar year 2006 and the plan approved by the Board should allow us to double our capacity again in calendar year 2007,” Ovshinsky said. In related news, The Detroit News is reporting that President George W. Bush is expected to tour the Uni-Solar facility in Auburn Hills, Michigan. This comes on the heels of the President telling Americans in his State of the Union speech that the nation must end its “addiction” to foreign oil and professed his support for solar energy through additional DOE funding. The White House didn’t release specifics of the President’s schedule, but state Republicans confirmed that he will stop in Auburn Hills. Uni-Solar officials said they could not comment.

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