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Tindo Solar opens in Adelaide

28th Dec 2011

Australia is set to begin commercial production of solar cells once again, as the country's only manufacturing plant opens in Adelaide.

The Tindo Solar site has recently gained certification from German electronic standards agency VDE and can now proceed to produce - at full capacity - one panel every one-and-a-half to two minutes, resulting in more than 300,000 panels a year.

Tindo Solar people and business manager Richard Inwood told local news publication AdelaideNow that years of hard work went into designing and developing the plant.

"Adrian [Tindo Solar managing director Adrian Ferraretto] had the gem of an idea a couple of years ago," he told the News Limited source.

"We've been working full-time since August and it's an incredibly complex undertaking."

According to Mr Inwood, the plant will be capable of producing the solar panels at the same price as those imported from overseas manufacturers such as China and panels will be sold through 60 companies from January 2012.

"Half of them are new start-up companies, so the plant is providing new jobs in the industry," he added.

The panels are also able to generate regular 240 volt AC power - rather than the more common DC voltage.

The opening of the plant comes just one month after Sydney-based solar panel manufacturer Silex closed its doors due to the increasing pressure from overseas suppliers.

Silex Solar - Australia's only solar panel manufacturer at the time - suspended production in its Sydney facility on November 15.

At the time, chief executive Dr Michael Goldsworthy told News Limited that there was a "massive oversupply across the global photovoltaic market", and one of the crucial factors in his decision to close was move by state governments (with the exception of Queensland) to limit feed-in tariff regimes.

"Some of the policies in place were perhaps too generous," Dr Goldsworthy said (November 15).

"This created a situation where new governments reacted and shut them down completely instead of giving solar a more reasoned assistance."

The company underwent a restructure in August in an attempt to improve its operation, a move that saw a new chief executive officer appointed and Silex solar cells replaced with those from a third party.

However, three months later the plant was still forced to close, instead focusing on its large-scale solar developments - including the construction of a 2 megawatt generator located in Mildura.

Posted by Mike Peacock - Solar correspondent

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