General Electric (GE) plans to build a solar energy unit in the US, to produce its new range of thin film photovoltaic panels.

The 400MW unit, set to be operational by 2013, will produce panels sufficient to generate 400MW of electricity annually, enough to power 80,000 homes annually.

GE is in the process of buying majority stake in French power-conversion company Converteam for $3.2bn, in a bid to use its technology to complement its other solar solutions.

The company has already secured orders for about 100MW of thin-film solar panels, including a 60MW solar panels order secured from NextEra Energy.

GE has also completed its purchase of PrimeStar Solar, in which it held a majority stake since 2008.