September 6, 2007 Solar panel manufacturing is a costly process and is a major reason for solar electricity being so expensive to set up and maintain. In what it describes as a world first, Applied Materials has introduced an integrated production line for manufacturing solar modules using 5.7m² glass panels. The ultra-large substrates, sized at 2.2m x 2.6m ,are designed to achieve low production cost per watt and drive down the cost of solar electricity installations by around 20%.

The Applied SunFab Thin Film Line is designed to produce enough solar modules in a year to generate up to 75 megawatts of electrical power. Using the 5.7m² panels (four times bigger than today’s conventional thin film solar production panels) the company state that SunFab Line can reduce the cost of system installations by more than 20%.

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“We’ve built on our years of experience in semiconductor and flat panel display manufacturing to create the solar industry’s first standardized thin film solution for making solar modules using cost-efficient, ultra-large glass panels,” said Dr. Mark Pinto, senior vice president, chief technology officer and general manager of Applied’s Energy and Environmental Solutions group. “With this state-of-the-art thin film production line and Applied’s global service capabilities, we are well-positioned to accelerate the growth of the solar market by providing an unprecedented 'cost per watt' through standardization, scale and efficiency.”

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