R&D department part of First Solar's expansion plans

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During a press conference held today at the Intersolar Europe trade fair, the company also said that it would be investing around €170 million euros into its expansion project; €30 million is expected to come from subsidies.

Meanwhile, the company has said that it has no further plans for its R&D facility located in California, the U.S. When asked if First Solar intended to expand its current operations into producing CIGS (copper indium gallium selenide) cells, due to the fact they have hired a CIGS scientist at the facility, First Solar managing director Stephan Hansen said that while the company was looking into all available technologies, it was not, as of yet, intending to break into the CIGS market. The company instead intends to concentrate its efforts, for the moment, on its main U.S. production facility in Parrisburg, Ohio.

In other news, First Solar has told pv magazine that it is currently in the feasibilty stages of its plans to build a two gigawatt solar power plant in Ordos City, Inner Mongolia, China. The company has already completed and submitted the pre-feasibility study earlier this year and is now concentrating on finishing the main study.

When asked if construction on the plant would start this year, as planned, TK Kallenbach, First Solar’s executive vice president of marketing and product management said that they would have to wait and see how the economic negotiations went with the Chinese government. He stated: "We will not start construction until the economics have been defined." He went on to say that First Solar is currently working with the Chinese government and local authorities to sort out such issues as grid connection, how to hook up the plant to the grid and the transmission options available.

Finally, First Solar announced that it is to co-sponsor a year-long project, aimed at studying the impact of ground-mounted solar farms on biodiversity. Mr Kallenbach said that the project complements on-going, site-specific research currently being carried out by the company. The results are due to be presented this autumn.

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