July 5 (Bloomberg New Energy Finance) -- Silex Systems Ltd., an Australian research and development company, said unit SilexSolar Pty will expand photovoltaic solar panel production capacity at its Sydney plant.
The increase will be made in two stages at SilexSolar’s plant at the Sydney Olympic Park, Silex Systems said in a statement to the Australian stock exchange today. The first, due to start in the fourth quarter of 2010, will take capacity to 20 megawatts a year from 13 MW now, and is expected to be completed by early 2011.
Silex wants to gain from increasing sales of rooftop solar panels to Australian households. Depending on demand, work will begin in mid-2011 on a further expansion at the Sydney plant to 35 MW. The upgrade is expected to cost a total of A$2 million ($1.7 million).
SilexSolar is also developing higher efficiency solar cell technology at the plant in collaboration with the University of New South Wales and Suntech Power Holdings Co. under a research program awarded A$5 million in funding from the Australian Solar Institute.
The project aims to increase solar cell efficiency from around 17 percent currently to approximately 20 percent by 2012, which Silex said could increase the plant’s panel production capacity to approximately 40 MW.
The Sydney plant is also planning to ramp production of cells toward the maximum existing capacity of as much as 50 MW. Overseas sales of this excess cell capacity are anticipated to start in the first half of 2011, Silex said, and could lead to the plant generating more than A$100 million in revenues in the 2011/2012 financial year.