Photovoltaic Module Manufacturer to Expand in Germany

Arizona-based First Solar says expansion will serve strong European customer base.

First Solar Inc., a Tempe, Ariz.-based manufacturer of thin-film solar modules, recently announced that it plans to expand its manufacturing plant in Frankfurt an der Oder, Germany.

The expansion will double the production capacity at the facility and create several hundred new jobs, according to the company.

First Solar, which employs more than 600 people in Frankfurt (Oder), said it is engaged in advanced talks with the German regional and federal authorities to obtain the necessary regulatory permits and financial framework for the expansion.

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

The expansion would double the annual capacity of the plant from 223 megawatts to around 446 megawatts by the fourth quarter of 2011 to serve the strong European customer base, according to First Solar.

The expansion also helps the company increase its natural income hedge against euro/dollar exchange rate risk by producing more in Germany for European customer demand, the company said.

Ralf Christoffers, minister for Economic Affairs of Brandenburg, said the announcement provides a further boost to one of the most innovative and fastest-growing sectors in the German state of Brandenburg.

In recent years, there has been quite a boom of solar companies moving herea trend to which First Solar contributed significantly, Christoffers said.

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