26 February 2011

First Solar’s second German factory to start production ahead of schedule in June

First Solar Inc of Tempe, AZ, USA, which manufactures thin-film photovoltaic (PV) modules based on cadmium telluride (CdTe), has taken a step towards doubling its production in Germany by celebrating completion of the roof on its new manufacturing plant in Frankfurt (Oder), which will draw some of its energy from a PV power plant on the roof.

After construction lasting just a year and an investment of €173m, the new production site will start operations by June, ahead of schedule. Spread across 50,000m2, it will produce modules with a collective annual capacity of more than 238MW. The expansion represents a doubling in the firm's production capacity in Frankfurt to 477MW just four years after First Solar began producing modules for commercial-scale solar power plants there in 2007. The expansion is part of First Solar’s global plan to boost its total production capacity to more than 2.7GW by 2012.

“Germany remains a key solar market and manufacturing base for First Solar,” says president Bruce Sohn. “The stability of the political framework here is an important factor in our investment and supports our mission to reduce the cost of solar energy to grid parity. The government’s decision to steadily reduce support schemes rather than put a cap on the market is necessary and encourages our efficiency improvements,” he adds. “Doubling our capacity in Frankfurt will enable us to satisfy the growing demand for clean, affordable, renewable energy not just in Germany, but throughout Europe and around the world.”

“We welcome this additional investment in Brandenburg by First Solar, which has been a leading employer in our region,” notes Matthias Platzeck, Prime Minister of the state of Brandenburg. “Their investment not only creates 500 new jobs for our skilled workforce, but also supports further opportunities for the renewables industry and local businesses,” he adds.

Katherina Reiche, state secretary in the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, sees the investment as an endorsement of the federal government’s renewable energy policies: “The fact that a globally leading solar company such as First Solar is expanding its investment in Germany is clear evidence that our economic and environmental policies are successful.”

“Almost every second solar panel in Germany comes from Brandenburg,” notes Ralf Christoffers, Minister for Economics and European Affairs in Brandenburg. “Expansion and investment by well-known companies has built an entire value chain in the region,” he adds.

Frankfurt (Oder) mayor Martin Wilke welcomes the push that the new plant will give to First Solar’s closed-loop manufacturing, which includes a pre-funded collection and recycling program. “First Solar is a pioneer in recycling, and offers a real and cost-effective alternative to conventional energy generation,” he said. “We expect that for every job created in the plant, an equivalent number of jobs will be created among suppliers and service providers, which multiplies First Solar’s investment across the economy.”

Tags: First Solar Thin-film photovoltaic CdTe

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