First Solar will go on with Mesa production facility and postpones the Vietnam factory
First Solar, Inc. announced it has consolidated its manufacturing capacity plan and accelerated progress toward its module conversion efficiency and production throughput targets. The company will postpone commissioning of its Vietnam factory until global supply and demand dynamics support the additional capacity. First Solar will continue developing its factory in Mesa, Ariz., in order to supply PV modules for the company's 2.7 GW North American project pipeline, which includes the Agua Caliente, Desert Sunlight, Antelope Valley Solar Ranch and Topaz projects.
In march 2011 First Solar decided to build up a large solar panel production facility in Mesa, Arizona. The 300 $ plant included plans for more than 600 jobs.
In reference to the new announcement Greater Phoenix Economic Council President and CEO Barry Broome stated: "Today's announcement from First Solar means one thing: American manufacturing wins, offshoring loses. For all the talk that the U.S. market cannot compete globally on manufacturing, it's now clear that we still represent the world's biggest manufacturing opportunity for solar and other renewable energies and clean technologies.
"The Greater Phoenix region is in a prime position to capitalize on this momentum. Already home to First Solar?s headquarters in addition to its Mesa manufacturing facility, the region is also home to nearly one dozen solar and renewable energy or clean technology companies such as Suntech Power Holdings, Power-One, Gestamp Solar Steel, Rioglass Solar, Clear Energy, Maxwell Technologies and hundreds more within their supply chains.
"There are many reasons for our success. Greater Phoenix turns out superb engineering talent through its universities and technical talent through its community college system. Most importantly, thanks to Gov. Jan Brewer's leadership, the state?s renewable energy tax credit program has been extremely successful in attracting startup, manufacturing and headquarter operations in these industries.
"Washington, D.C. needs to acknowledge the importance of renewable energy and clean technology for the future of America. Today, we encourage our elected officials to follow the sensible lead of those who defended our defense industry against cuts by embracing initiatives to change the American economy through solar and renewable energy. As illustrated today by First Solar's decision to embrace Mesa over a low-cost overseas market, we can and will dominate the solar renewable energy and clean technology market."
In the third quarter, First Solar also began to implement technologies and processes derived from its research and development (R&D) program that produced a world-record 17.3 percent efficient cadmium telluride solar cell in July, resulting in average module conversion efficiency of 12.4 percent from its best-performing production lines during the quarter. Average conversion efficiency for all production lines was 11.8 percent in the third quarter, up from 11.7 percent in the second quarter.
First Solar also expects that continuous improvement programs in its production process, coupled with the efficiency gains, will increase its average manufacturing throughput to 70 MW annually per production line by the end of 2012, up from 63.5 MW per line in the third quarter of 2011.
"Our achievements in R&D continue to showcase the long-term conversion efficiency potential and scalability of our advanced thin-film technology," said Mike Ahearn, Chairman and interim CEO of First Solar. "This consolidation will help us to balance our production with market demand, while still providing local capacity to supply our U.S. project pipeline and the broader American market."
Posted by Gisela Bühl | 2011-11-04