This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.
First Solar to Expand its Solar Manufacturing Facility
First Solar, LLC broke ground on a $20 million expansion of its solar module production facility last week. The expansion will allow the plant to produce 25 megawatts of solar modules each year beginning in 2005. First Solar produced 1.5 megawatts of solar modules in 2002 and expects to progressively double that to 3.0 megawatts in 2003 and to 6.0 megawatts in 2004. See the First Solar press release (PDF 103 KB). Download Acrobat Reader.
First Solar was launched in 2000 with a production line that used glass-coating technologies to manufacture thin-film solar panels at a theoretical rate of 100 megawatts per year, although its finishing line at the time was expected to produce at most 25 megawatts of solar modules per year. However, after gaining production experience during start up and commissioning of the plant, First Solar determined that actual plant capacity was constrained by certain equipment and processes—constraints the new plant expansion will address. Among the actions taken by First Solar to address the production problems was the hiring of automation expert Rohwedder, Inc. in late 2002 to build and install a new coating system for the company. See the Rohwedder press release.