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First Solar boosts CdTe production capacity

First Solar gets set to build a third CdTe manufacturing plant in Malaysia to satisfy the increasing demands of its customers.

US-based CdTe photovoltaic (PV) module manufacturer First Solar is to build an additional production plant in Malaysia with an annual capacity of 120 MW.

This facility is scheduled to start production in 2009 and will be built next to two other First Solar plants that are currently under construction.

When all this work is complete First Solar will have 570 MW total annual production capacity.

The company already has manufacturing plants in the US and Germany with a combined annual capacity of 210 MW.

The increase in capacity will be used to meet demand from existing solar energy systems manufacturers including Blitzstrom, Gehrlicher Umweltschonende Energiesysteme, Phoenix Solar, and Reinecke + Pohl Sun Energy.

In addition, the extra capacity will be used to fulfill the demand from a contract with Assyce Fotovoltaica, a Spanish renewable energy project developer and system integrator focused on large scale, grid-connected solar power plants.

Recently-signed contracts and contract extensions from all these customers equate to 625 MW and are valued at $1.1 billion over the period 2007 to 2012.

"Our customers have demonstrated that they are among the best positioned in the industry to develop meaningful project pipelines for large ground and roof-mounted projects across the European Union," remarked First Solar CEO Mike Ahearn.

"We are pleased to build this additional production capacity to support their continued expansion."

First Solar PV modules can be built on automated lines in just 2.5  hours, deliver conversion efficiencies of 9%, and feature CdTe films with a thickness of less than 3 Âµm on glass platforms.

The company, which was formed in 1999 and embarked on production in 2002, claims that its process greatly reduces raw material and manufacturing costs compared to crystalline silicon PV modules. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, these products have a cost-per-Watt well below $1/W.

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