Frankfurt, Germany — First Solar Inc. this week announced that it plans to expand its German manufacturing plant in Frankfurt an der Oder, doubling local production capacity 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 in advanced talks with the German regional and federal authorities to obtain the necessary regulatory permits and financial framework for the expansion.
The expansion would be the first major foreign direct investment in the German green technology sector this year. It would double the annual capacity of the Frankfurt manufacturing plant to around 446 megawatts (MW) by the fourth quarter of 2011 from 223 MW today to serve First Solar’s European customer base. 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 German state of Brandenburg welcomed the announcement by First Solar and described it as an endorsement of its strategy to further expand the production of renewable energy.
“The commitment 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 a bright future of the state. This will create sustainable jobs. At the same time, the expansion of production capacity of solar modules will foster our top position in renewable energy and will help the state to achieve its ambitious energy and climate goals.”
First Solar employs more than 4,700 associates worldwide. With an expected annual production capacity in excess of 1.3 gigawatts (GW) in Germany, the United States and Malaysia in 2010, First Solar was the world’s largest module producer in 2009, a trend that continued in Q1 of this year.
The company has three additional factories in different phases of construction in France and Malaysia. When the 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.