First Solar Inc. has announced its intent to expand its Germanmanufacturing plant in Frankfurt an der Oder, doubling local productioncapacity and creating several hundred new jobs.
The company,which already employs more than 600 associates in Frankfurt (Oder)manufacturing First Solar’s trademark thin-film solar modules, is inadvanced talks with the German regional and federal authorities toobtain the necessary regulatory permits and financial framework for theexpansion.
The expansion would be the first major foreign directinvestment in the German green technology sector this year. It woulddouble the annual capacity of the Frankfurt (Oder) manufacturing plantto around 446 megawatts (MW) by the fourth quarter of 2011 from 223 MWtoday to serve the strong European customer base.
The expansionalso helps the company increase its natural income hedge againsteuro/dollar exchange rate risk by producing more in Germany for European customer demand.
The German state of Brandenburg welcomed theannouncement by First Solar and described it as an endorsement of itsstrategy to further expand the production of renewable energy. “Thecommitment of First Solar is good news for the state Brandenburg and the city of Frankfurt (Oder),” said Minister President Matthias Platzeck.
“Companies that are willing to invest also in times of economic crises ensure abright future of the state. This will create sustainable jobs. At thesame time, the expansion of production capacity of solar modules willfoster our top position in renewable energy and will help the state toachieve its ambitious energy and climate goals.”
“I am delightedabout the fact that First Solar intends to further consolidate itspresence in Frankfurt (Oder),” says Ralf Christoffers, Minister forEconomic Affairs of Brandenburg.
“The announcement provides afurther boost to one of the most innovative and fastest growing sectorsin Brandenburg. In recent years, there has been quite a boom of solarcompanies moving here—a trend to which First Solar contributedsignificantly. Above all, I am especially pleased by the fact thatadditional jobs will be created in eastern Brandenburg.”
“Thisannouncement confirms our belief in and continuing commitment to thegrowth of the German and European markets for clean, affordable solarelectricity,” says Bruce Sohn, president of First Solar. “It alsoreflects our confidence in our workforce in Frankfurt (Oder) and thestrong partnership we have with the Frankfurt and Brandenburggovernments,” Sohn added.
Dr. Martin Wilke, Mayor of Frankfurt(Oder), said he was “Very proud that First Solar intends to deepen itscommitment to Frankfurt (Oder). The announcement confirms that localconditions are in line with the highest international standards. By nowFrankfurt (Oder) has put itself on the global map as an internationallocation for renewable energy.”
First Solar employs more than4,700 associates worldwide. With an expected annual production capacityin excess of 1.3 gigawatts (GW) in Germany, the United States andMalaysia in 2010, First Solar is one of the world’s leading producers of photovoltaic modules. The company has three additional factories indifferent phases of construction in France and Malaysia.
Whenthe announced factories are fully completed in Q1 2012, the company will have more than 2.1 GW of capacity, based on the annualized run rate for the first quarter of 2010.
The Frankfurt (Oder) factory wasrecently honored as the only industrial company in eastern Germany toreceive recognition by the Great Place to Work Institute. The siteincludes a recycling facility as part of First Solar’s commitment toresource efficiency and sustainability.