BP Solar, a division of BP, announced on March 22 that it has begun constructing a mega cell plant at its European headquarters in Tres Cantos, Madrid. The company is aiming to expand its annual cell capacity from 55 megawatt (MW) to around 300 MW.
The new cell lines will use state-of-the-art screen-printing technology, according to the company. By fully automating wafer handling, the lines will be able to handle the very thinnest of wafers available and ensuring the highest possible quality. The first line is expected to be operational before the summer.
In addition to the new manufacturing lines, the Tres Cantos site will be remodeled to include a new photovoltaic (PV) systems prototype area, a visitor training centre and product testing and development facilities.
Earlier this week the company announced the construction of a similar facility in Bangalore, India.
The Madrid mega cell plant will be one of the largest such facilities in Europe, according to the company. Since the site was acquired in 2002, a tri-generation power plant has been built providing heat and power to the site. The facility is ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certified.
BP Solar chose its Tres Cantos facility for one of its mega cell plants due to confidence in the growth projections of the European market. "We already have an established manufacturing presence in Madrid, a skilled and talented workforce, and direct access to some of the fastest growing PV markets in the world," said Bertrand Boulin, BP Solar's vice president of Manufacturing and Supply.
BP Solar is a business within BP Alternative Energy with over 2200 employees focused on harnessing the sun's energy to produce solar electricity. This includes the design, manufacture and marketing of solar electric systems for a wide range of applications in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors. The company has installations in over 160 countries, with manufacturing facilities in Spain, the U.S., Australia, India and China.