First Solar says German plant starts production

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 08, 2011 9:08 AM

NEW YORK (Reuters) - First Solar Inc, the world's largest solar company by market value, said on Wednesday its new factory in Frankfurt an der Oder, Germany, had begun producing solar modules one month ahead of schedule.

The factory, its second in the city, will continue ramping up capacity at its four production lines during the third quarter, and bring First Solar's thin-film solar module production capacity at the two plants to 500 megawatts.

Solar power has been one of the fastest growing forms of energy, but it remains tiny compared to fossil fuels and relies on subsidies in most regions to compete with more traditional forms of energy.

Manufacturing capacity of solar modules has climbed in recent months although cuts to subsidies in Europe have driven prices for modules down sharply, pressuring profit margins for most solar makers and weighing on share prices.

First Solar's shares have dropped nearly 9.5 percent so far this year, and closed at $117.86 on Tuesday.

Tempe, Arizona-based First Solar produces the industry's lowest cost photovoltaic solar modules, which turn sunlight into electricity, at its factories in Germany, Malaysia and the United States. It has new plants under construction in Vietnam and the United States.

The company uses cadmium telluride in its modules, rather than the silicon-based panels manufactured by most of its competitors.

(Reporting by Matt Daily, editing by Dave Zimmerman)