Canada's First Vertically Integrated Solar Photovoltaic Manufacturing Facility Opens in Cambridge Ontario

Solar Photovoltaic Energy Success Stories

On June 23th, 2004, ATS Automation Tooling Systems Inc. opened Canada’s first full-scale 20-megawatt solar cell manufacturing line and unveiled its revolutionary new photovoltaic technology that will be produced from its highly automated Spheral Solar™ Power (SSP) plant - a 193,000 square feet facility located in south-western Ontario city of Cambridge.

Canadian-based ATS is a world leading industrial automation company with 3,500%nbsp;employees and 26 facilities in Canada, United States, Europe and Asia-Pacific, dedicated to designing and manufacturing advanced factory automation systems, custom automation equipment, standard automation products and turn-key assembly machinery, as well as high-volume precision components, sub-assemblies, solar cells and solar modules.

ATS’s interest in solar energy began in 1993 when ATS was the principal supplier of equipment to the Spheral Solar™ Division of Texas Instrument. In 1997, ATS acquired both Photowatt International of France (10th largest integrated manufacturer of standard solar electric or photovoltaic technology) and also purchased all rights and Intellectual Property of the Spheral Solar™ Technology. SSP technology is expected to accelerate the adoption of solar energy by consumers and commercial users - and open new mainstream applications - because it can be manufactured cost-effectively and the resulting solar cells are pliable, lightweight, durable and can be produced in a variety of colours that suit seamless integration with traditional building materials. It is a major breakthrough for the estimated $3.4 billion global solar photovoltaic industry.

In 2000, ATS has levered its automation expertise and high-volume manufacturing skills internally to accelerate the development of its photovoltaic automation technologies with $3.2 million assistance from the Government of Canada (CanmetENERGY, Canadian International Development Agency [CIDA] and Technology Early Actions Measures [TEAM]). In 2003, ATS completed the development of solar manufacturing equipment and is now marketing them worldwide.

Also in 2003, the Government of Canada, through Industry Canada’s Technology Partnership Program, invested $25.5 million and an additional $4 million from TEAM to leverage a $67 million private sector spending to commercialise the Spheral Solar™ technology. The SSP facility currently employs 150 people and is planning to augment this workforce to 220 by the end of this calendar year. The facility was designed to produce a targeted capacity of 20 megawatts of solar products annually – enough to power 6,000 to 8,000 homes ever year. Over time it is envisioned that the facility will increase its annual capacity to 40 megawatts. With the opening of this solar facility, ATS will start delivering on its competitive advantages and provide Canadians and consumers around the world with the products necessary for building a sustainable energy market for the 21st century.

For more information, visit the Spheral Solar™ Technology Website .

Managed by CanmetENERGY at the Varennes (Quebec) research centre.