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Solar panel factory opened in Malaysia

Taiwan’s AU Optronics and US-based SunPower have linked up to build a factory making high-efficiency solar cells in Malaysia.

The new factory is in "solar valley", in the Malaysian province of Melaka, south of Kuala Lumpur, said AU Optronics. In production since October of this year, it has already produced approximately 5MW-worth of solar panels with up to 22.5 per cent conversion efficiencies.

The company’s Malaysian joint venture, AUO SunPower, added that construction is continuing on-site, with the plant due for completion in 2013. It will eventually make over 1400MW of cells annually, noted SunPower CEO Tom Werner.  

The two-building facility will be 108,000 square meters (more than 1 million square feet), and will house 28 solar cell production lines when fully online.

The factory was designed to have a variety of energy-efficient features that will help increase operations efficiency and cut energy costs. These include: solar covered parking, generating up to 2.6MW; rooftop solar on all site facilities, generating more than 10MW; rainwater retention ponds; a cooling system that uses 40 per cent less electricity than comparable systems in the area; and heat recovery air compressors that generate 100 percent of its hot water needs.

Werner added: "Malaysia's investment in the AUO SunPower joint venture, an excellent talent pool and a positive business investment climate, has given us the opportunity to significantly expand solar cell production that will meet the demand for solar worldwide, which has grown nearly eight fold over the past four years. We appreciate our partnership with the Malaysian government."

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