Spain’s Agere Systems to Make Solar Panels for BP

ALLENTOWN, Pennsylvania August 17 One of the world’s largest solar energy companies will invest Euro 120 million to buy and renovate a plant in Spain to manufacture solar photovoltaic cells. BP will convert Agere Systems’ chip fabrication plant in Madrid into a solar production facility. BP announced on July 4 that it had agreed in principle to acquire the building as part of its expansion plans for PV manufacturing in Spain. The sale is expected to be completed by the end of this year with production to start by the end of next year. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. The facility will be one of the largest solar plants in the world, producing 60 MW a year of crystalline silicon Saturn solar cells. It will also have potential to expand further. The product will meet the rapidly-growing demand for solar power in Europe. BP will invest $100 million in the facility, which is 10 miles from BP Solar’s current Spanish manufacturing facility. Six hundred new jobs will be created when the plant is fully operational. ‘Spain and the rest of Europe represent growing markets for solar power,” says BP Solar chief executive Harry Shimp. “This project in Madrid will enable us to continue to play a leading role in meeting that demand.’ BP claims to have 20 per cent of the global market for solar photovoltaics. Last year, it has revenue of $200 million and produced 40 MW of PV equipment. It recently opened a new cell and module production plant in Australia and will build a module assembly facility in Germany. It has crystalline silicon manufacturing sites in the U.S. and India, and has two thin-film solar plants in Virginia and California. Agere is a subsidiary of Lucent Technologies. It says the sale is part of a broader restructuring effort to rationalize manufacturing, cut staff and write down assets. The facility is located 20 km north of Madrid in Tres Cantos. Agere is one of the world’s largest providers of components for communications applications, with a focus on optical components and integrated circuits designed for advanced wired, wireless, and optical communications networks. It also designs and manufactures semiconductor solutions for communications-related consumer devices, such as cellular phones, modems and hard disk drives for personal computers.
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