First Solar thin film plant expected to open ahead of schedule

When completed, the plant will double the company’s yearly production capacity to an overall 477 MW. Spread across 50,000 square meters, it is expected to use energy generated from a PV installation atop its roof to power some of the plant. Up to 500 new jobs will be created.

Bruce Sohn, president of First Solar commented: "Doubling our capacity in Frankfurt will enable us to satisfy the growing demand for clean, affordable, renewable energy not just in Germany, but throughout Europe and around the world."

Talking about the ongoing feed-in tariff issues in Germany, he added: "Germany remains a key solar market and manufacturing base for First Solar. The stability of the political framework here is an important factor in our investment and supports our mission to reduce the cost of solar energy to grid parity. The government’s decision to steadily reduce support schemes, rather than put a cap on the market is necessary and encourages our efficiency improvements."

Martin Wilke, mayor of the city of Frankfurt (Oder), praised the company and welcomed the push the factory will give to First Solar’s closed-loop manufacturing, which includes a pre-funded collection and recycling program. "First Solar is a pioneer in recycling, and offers a real and cost-effective alternative to conventional energy generation," he said. "We expect that for every job created in the plant, an equivalent number of jobs will be created among suppliers and service providers, which multiplies First Solar’s investment across the economy."

The company added that the expansion is part of its global plan to boost production capacity to more than 2.7 gigawatts by 2012.