A couple of years ago, GE jumped into the solar manufacturing arena in a pretty big way. In April 2011, we announced that GE had just invested $600 million into a thin-film solar factory in Aurora, Colorado. GE announced in early 2012 that it had doubled its investments in solar power in the previous year. However, when the solar module business got bloody (profits turning into losses for such companies as the world saw massive oversupply of modules and fast-dropping costs), GE decided to shut down the cadmium-telluride solar factory.
GE has remained in the solar business in some ways. Apparently, it is a major supplier of high-efficiency solar cells, some of the most efficient in the world, and it is also doing a lot of research within this solar arena. It also recently bought 1.75 million shares of First Solar common stock. And, as GE CEO and Chairman Jeffrey Immelt told me in a recent interview, GE is involved in “balance of plan” solar solutions and sees more opportunity there.
Here’s a bit more on some of these matters from Andy Holt, general manager of GE Renewable Energy Services:
*Full disclosure: GE funded and organized my trip to Chicago in order to cover the GE Minds + Machines 2013 conference. It also arranged my meeting with Andy. For more from the event, including more videos of Andy, check out our Minds + Machines archives.
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