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GE Halts Construction on Solar Plant as Prices Plunge

GE Halts Construction on Colorado Solar Plant as Prices Plunge
A thin film cell is prepared using a microscope in a Solar Lab at General Electric Co.'s (GE) Global Research Center in Niskayuna, NY. GE suspended it's Colorado-based thin-film solar plant. Photographer: Vijay Paruchuru/Bloomberg

General Electric Co. is suspending construction of a Colorado thin-film solar factory, slated to be the biggest in the U.S., as prices for the panels tumble amid a manufacturing-capacity glut.

Work will be halted for at least 18 months, Danielle Merfeld, the general manager of solar technologies, said in a telephone interview.

GE, which draws about 30 percent of sales from energy businesses including wind and solar, will use the delay to modify the plant’s design and focus on boosting the efficiency of its solar modules. The Fairfield, Connecticut-based company announced the $300 million plant in October, with plans to hire 350 workers and begin shipments to customers in 2013.

“Over the past six months, the industry has shifted pretty rapidly,” Merfeld said. “We’ve seen about a 50 percent price drop for modules over this period and there’s a lot of unabated overcapacity out there.”

GE had said the plant, located east of Denver, would make enough panels annually to power approximately 80,000 U.S. homes, or about 400 megawatts.

Technology blog GigaOm first reported the suspension earlier today.

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