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Gallery: Inside Secretive New Solar-Tech Factory

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Old 10-07-2008
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Gallery: Inside Secretive New Solar-Tech Factory
: Photo: Jon Snyder/Wired.comFREMONT, California -- Solar photovoltaics make up a tiny percentage of the world's power largely because they just cost too much. Burning fossil fuels remains cheaper than even the best solar panels. But Solyndra's new thin-film technology could substantially cut the cost of manufacturing and installing solar electricity, perhaps reaching the cost of standard power within a few years. The venture-backed company, which came out of stealth mode today, gave Wired.com access to their new whirring fab, installed in a former hard-drive factory. Most of the equipment was designed in-house by Solyndra's 500 employees and the aid of more than $600 million in venture capital. "We've put a lot of effort into very sophisticated process control," Kelly Truman, VP of business development told Wired.com. "We design and build all the critical equipment in the factory ourselves."Left: Solyndra's solar modules enter the factory as simple glass tubes a few feet long, seen here awaiting a special cleaning process. : Photo: Jon Snyder/Wired.comDesigned with automation in mind, the factory's many robots do much of the work in transporting the panels of glass tubes around the floor. : Photo: Jon Snyder/Wired.comThe glass tubes are dipped in a series of solutions including coatings of copper indium gallium diselenide, known as CIGS. Here we see finished tubes, which have lost their transparency. : Photo: Jon Snyder/Wired.comAs the panels receive...

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