8 June 2010


CdTe PV module maker First Solar to double German plant capacity to 446MW

First Solar Inc of Tempe, AZ, USA, which makes thin-film photovoltaic modules based on cadmium telluride (CdTe) as well as providing engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services, says that — to serve its strong European customer base — it intends to double the annual production capacity of its German manufacturing plant in Frankfurt an der Oder from 223MW to about 446MW by fourth-quarter 2011. The expansion should also help to increase the firm's natural income hedge against euro/dollar exchange rate risk by producing more in Germany for European customer demand.

The firm, which already employs more than 600 in Frankfurt (Oder), is in advanced talks with the German regional and federal authorities to obtain the necessary regulatory permits and financial framework for the expansion, which should create several hundred new jobs and would be the first major foreign direct investment in the German green technology sector this year, it is claimed.

The German state of Brandenburg described the announcement as an endorsement of its strategy to further expand renewable energy production. “Companies that are willing to invest also in times of economic crises ensure a bright future of the state,” comments Minister President Matthias Platzeck. “The expansion of production capacity of solar modules will foster our top position in renewable energy and will help the state to achieve its ambitious energy and climate goals,” he adds.

“The announcement provides a further boost to one of the most innovative and fastest-growing sectors in Brandenburg,” says Ralf Christoffers, Brandenburg’s Minister for Economic Affairs. “In recent years, there has been quite a boom of solar companies moving here... I am especially pleased by the fact that additional jobs will be created in eastern Brandenburg,” he adds.

“This announcement confirms our belief in and continuing commitment to the growth of the German and European markets for clean, affordable solar electricity,” says First Solar’s president Bruce Sohn. “It also reflects our confidence in our workforce in Frankfurt (Oder) and the strong partnership we have with the Frankfurt and Brandenburg governments.”

The Frankfurt (Oder) plant was recently honored as the only industrial firm in eastern Germany to receive recognition by the Great Place to Work Institute. The site includes a recycling facility as part of First Solar’s commitment to resource efficiency and sustainability.

First Solar employs more than 4700 staff worldwide and has expected annual production capacity of more than 1.3GW in Germany, the USA and Malaysia in 2010. The firm also has three more plants in various phases of construction in France and Malaysia. When fully completed in Q1/2012, total capacity should be more than 2.1GW (based on the annualized run rate for first-quarter 2010).

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