BP Solar Closes Plant in Maryland

Solar prices declined between 40% and 50% since the onset of the financial and economic crisis

BP Solar announced last week that will shift its remaining in-house manufacturing to its low cost joint ventures and regional supply partners. As a result, the company has ceased silicon casting, wafering, and cell manufacturing at its Frederick, Md. facility.

Approximately 320 positions will be eliminated out of 430 positions at the Frederick location. BP Solar will maintain its U.S. presence in sales and marketing, research and technology, project development, as well as key business support activities.

"Solar prices declined between 40% and 50% since the onset of the financial and economic crisis, compressing industry margins and driving solar power towards grid competitive pricing," said Reyad Fezzani, CEO of BP Solar.

However there is still growth. The global market is expected to reach 12 GW in 2012 with the U.S. growing to nearly 3 GW, Fezzai said. "We are scaling up our supply chain to serve this rapid growth here in the U.S., in the European, and Asian markets.

In 2009, BP Solar announced it increased global sales by over 26% (versus market growth of 6%) and expects to grow in excess of 50% in 2010, exceeding predicted market growth.

The company is developing larger scale projects ranging from 1-300MW in size and supply distribution partners serving residential and smaller commercial segments. Itrecently completed the largest U.S. rooftop solar installation at FedEx Grounds Woodbridge, N.J. facility, and 17 rooftop installations at Wal-Mart stores in California. Construction will begin later this year on the largest solar installation in New York state (32MW) for the Long Island Power Authority on the grounds of Brookhaven National Lab.

Fezzani noted that some 70% of solar industry jobs are in design, installation and maintenance. As a major project developer, BP Solar said it will be helping to create hundreds of these new jobs here in America and worldwide. Following its success in Germany, Spain and Australia, the company has announced the launch of its Certified Installer Program in the U.S., recently training 150 installers with plans to expand the program as the market grows.

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