Australia's 'only' solar panel manufacturing plant re-opens

Silex Systems re-opens Sydney Olympic Park plant in a bid to save local solar panel production industry

Silex's solar panel facility. Credit: Silex Systems.

Silex's solar panel facility. Credit: Silex Systems.

The Australian solar technology sector looks to have received a boost with the official opening of Silex Systems Sydney Olympic Park solar panel manufacturing facility.

The facility, owned and operated by Silex Systems subsidiary, Silex Solar Pty Ltd, has been manufacturing panels since March and will, according to the company, now ramp up production.

Silex claims the plant is the largest in the Southern Hemisphere and will have a capacity of 50MW of solar cell production and 15MW of module production per year. Potential capacity of the plant is estimated at 200MW per year.

Silex’s panels will initially use mono silicon processing with a conversion efficiency of about 17 per cent, but research is currently underway by the company’s US-based subsidiary, Translucent Inc, on technology which will improve the efficiency level.

Silex Systems chief executive officer, Michael Goldsworthy, claimed the company’s acquisition of the plant in June 2009 for $6.5 million had effectively saved the local solar manufacturing industry.

“Silex’s acquisition of the plant will effectively avert a total shut-down of the solar manufacturing industry in Australia,” he said in an statement to the Australian Stock Exchange. “We now have a solid foundation to continue the great heritage of solar technology innovation and development that made Australia a world leader in this industry over the past three decades.”

About 30 engineers, technologists and production staff are employed at the plant. Staff numbers are expected to grow to about 100 by mid-2011.

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