Germany: First Solar to pay €5 million funding back

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A spokesperson for the state’s ministry of economy has confirmed that the thin film photovoltaic module manufacturer will have to pay back the funds that it received from the state of Brandenburg, which are said to total over €5 million.

At the end of April, First Solar announced that it would significantly reduce its operations in Germany, due to the "deteriorating" market conditions in Europe, thus affecting around 1,200 employees. Specifically, the U.S.-based company said it would close its manufacturing operations in Frankfurt (Oder) by the end of this year.

First Solar officially opened its second German plant at the start of last November. The move saw the company doubling its production capacity in Frankfurt (Oder) from 250 MW to 500 MW. However, in February, it was forced to announce production reductions of 50 percent.

In the original funding agreements, various clauses were included, which, among others, detailed several years of job security for its employees. Since First Solar has not met all of the funding criteria, the money will now have to be returned to the state. The news was officially announced last week.