Image: Spark Solar
Just last week we reported on Spark Solar developing a spray-on solar photovoltaicenergy system. Now comes news that the same company has been awarded "major project facilitation" status by the Australian Federal Government for its planned $60 million high-tech solar cell factory.
The government's minister for Infrastructure, Anthony Albanese, says the solar manufacturing facility "... has the potential to be the largest supplier of solar cells in the Southern Hemisphere." While the factory site has not yet been finalised, regions including Adelaide, Geelong, Wollongong, Queanbeyan and Canberra are under consideration. Setting aside the issue of location, the first solar cells are due for release by late 2010. Annual productions run of more than 10 million solar cells are anticipated. An estimated $135 million AUD is expected in annual export revenues, and employment for more than 115 Australians in high tech positions.
The Major Project Facilitation (MPF) status to a planned $60 million solar manufacturing facility which has the potential to be the largest supplier of solar cells in the Southern Hemisphere.
The Spark Solar Australia's Solar Cell Manufacturing Project is the first to be granted Major Project Facilitation (MPF) status by the Government, giving apparently access to government programs and approvals.
The Minister suggest, in his media release, that "With the right support from government, Australia can grow its renewable industries and become a world leader in green technologies, in turn creating thousands of highly skilled 'green' collar jobs and new export opportunities."
Spark Solar also have a second technology they hope to commercialise. It involves a concept known as Angled Buried Contact (ABC) cells, which increase efficiency by hiding the electrical contacts, allowing for more surface area to be given over the silicon cells themselves.
Image: Spark Solar
While all this sounds wonderful it also sounds a little contrary to the approach by BP Solar Australia. They announced in November 2008 that they'd cease production of photovoltaic cells and panels from its Sydney manufacturing plant in at the end of March 2009, with the loss of 200 jobs. The rationale given was that BP wanted to "focus its operations at larger scale plants in lowest cost manufacturing countries, in order to drive down the cost of solar power for consumers."
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