US firm will manufacture “flexible” PVs at a new factory in South Wales

A new generation of solar panels with the flexibility of textiles are to be manufactured in South Wales creating up to 300 jobs.

American-based G24 Innovations will start manufacturing the photovoltaic cells in 2007 at a new 23-acre carbon-neutral factory in Cardiff in 2007.

As well as integrating the technology into building products G24 Innovations claim DSSC can be incorporated into portable electronics such as mobile phones.

G24 Innovations claims that the production process can substantially increases the volume of PV manufacture and reduce production costs.

The technology known as dye-sensitised solar cells (DSSC) has been developed by US-based Konarka Technologies and Swiss research body EPFL.

DSSC solar panels absorb light from a wider range of the light spectrum than conventional panels. This means that they can generate power at low light levels and not just in sunlight.

G24 Innovations claims the flexible product has one-fiftieth of the weight of traditional glass-based solar cells and can be produced in a variety of colours.

They are produced by putting a thin layer of titanium dioxide onto a layer of film before nanotechnology manipulates the atoms and molecules that generate energy when exposed to light.

The 23-acre Cardiff factory will have a 30 Megawatt capacity in the first four months, which could rise to 200 Megawatt by the end of 2008. G24i says a 5MW pilot machine will be operational by the end of October 2006.

The plans for the factory were finalised at last month’s Ryder Cup when G24i met the Welsh Assembley first minister Rhodri Morgan.