Articles & Case Studies

SunPower Selects GE High Efficiency Water System for its Next Generation Solar Cell Manufacturing Facility in Malaysia

Posted: Monday 16th August 2010

SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ: SPWRA) has selected GE to supply the new SunPower-AUO joint venture solar cell fabrication plant in Malaysia with an ultra pure water system to meet the needs of its next generation manufacturing facility. The GE system will save more than 230 million gallons of water relative to other technologies—sufficient to meet the daily water needs of more than 8,300 community residents.

The SunPower-AUO facility will be the largest silicon solar manufacturing factory in the world and is expected to begin operations near the end of 2010 and ramp production during the following two years. The factory, known as Fab 3, is located 20 kilometers north of Melaka, Malaysia, in a region that has experienced prior water shortages and drought.

Responsible environmental stewardship is central to SunPower’s vision for the company’s growth and sustainability. “SunPower is committed to helping protect the quantity and quality of our water resources, and we’re proud that, with GE, we’re able to achieve new environmental and performance benchmarks in our industry. SunPower’s unique PV manufacturing process produces the highest-efficiency solar cells on the market today, and we expect the same from our water systems. Our collaboration with GE on this project will not only benefit our community, but ultimately our customers as we continue to drive down the cost and impact of manufacturing,” said Rob Vinje, managing director, SunPower.

GE will design, supply and install an advanced ultra pure water system featuring the internationally patented high efficiency reverse osmosis (HERO™) process. The system, operating on a challenging and variable feedwater source, will provide 2,400 gallons per minute of ultra pure water for manufacturing.

“With operating efficiencies exceeding 90 percent, the HERO system will not only conserve water, but through advances in technology and its implementation, we’ll also see an immediate positive return on environment for our customer,” said Jeff Connelly, vice president, engineered systems—water and process technologies for GE Power & Water. “This is exactly the type of project that reflects GE’s ecomagination commitment, delivering innovative solutions to environmental challenges that help our customers.”

GE has set a new target to grow revenues from ecomagination products at twice the rate of the total company revenue in the next five years, making ecomagination an even larger proportion of total company sales. In 2009, the ecomagination portfolio included more than 80 products and ecomagination revenues grew 6 percent to $18 billion even in a challenging global environment. GE aims to invest $1.5 billion in cleaner R&D by 2010.

By 2015, GE will improve the energy intensity of its operations by 50 percent and will reduce its absolute greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent (versus 2004 levels). Additionally, GE also has pledged to reduce freshwater consumption by 25 percent by 2015 from its 2006 baseline.

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