First Solar to expand German manufacturing plant; 100s of jobs to be created

The company, which already employs more than 600 associates in Frankfurt (Oder), 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 (Oder) manufacturing plant to around 446 megawatts (MW) by the fourth quarter of 2011 from 223 MW today to serve the strong European customer base.

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."

Ralf Christoffers, Minister for Economic Affairs of Brandenburg added: "I am delighted about the fact that First Solar intends to further consolidate its presence in Frankfurt (Oder). The announcement provides a further boost to one of the most innovative and fastest growing sectors in Brandenburg. In recent years, there has been quite a boom of solar companies moving here – a trend to which First Solar contributed significantly. Above all, I am especially pleased by the fact that additional jobs will be created in eastern Brandenburg."

"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."

First Solar employs more than 4,700 associates worldwide. It has an expected annual production capacity in excess of 1.3 gigawatts (GW) in Germany, the United States and Malaysia in 2010. 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.

The Frankfurt (Oder) factory was recently honored as the only industrial company in eastern Germany to receive recognition by the Great Place to Work Institute. The site includes a recycling facility as part of First Solar’s commitment to resource efficiency and sustainability.