In essence, First Solar has added ‘contract manufacturing’ or ‘foundry’ operations to its evolving business model.

According to the new partners, the new 100MW plus plant will require

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an initial capital investment of more than €90 million. Full production

is planned for the second half of 2011. The location of the site is

expected to be announced in the next few months and will also include a

facility for recycling solar panels, France’s first such facility and

Europe’s only solar panel recycling plant outside of Germany. At full

production the entire facility is expected to employ approximately 300

people.

The investment decision was announced in the presence of French

Sustainable Development Minister, Jean-Louis Borloo. “I salute the

decision of EDF Energies Nouvelles and First Solar to invest and create

jobs in France’s solar sector, which has begun to take off since the

Grenelle de l’Environnement,” he said. “This investment represents a

veritable turning point for the photovoltaic industry and confirms that

France is more than ever in a position to play a leading role globally.”

EDF Energies Nouvelles raised €500 million last year to finance its

photovoltaic development ambitions, targeting 500MWp in PV

installations by 2012. EDF had previously used First Solar’s thin film

modules on several projects.

“This decision by First Solar and EDF EN is a sign of our shared

commitment to the future of solar electricity,” noted Mike Ahearn,

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of First Solar. “We commend

President Nicolas Sarkozy’s leadership in promoting long-term policies

to build a more sustainable energy future not just for France but the

world. Countries that create market frameworks that enable solar and

other renewable energies to achieve commercial scale will reap the

greatest benefits in private sector investment, technological

innovation and job creation.”

This is the first new capacity expansion program First Solar has

announced since initiating construction of multiple new plants in

Malyasia, several years ago. With this new partnership, the first the

company has undertaken, the CdTe leader will have manufacturing

operations in the U.S., Germany, Malaysia and now France.

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