First Solar, Inc. (Nasdaq: FSLR) officially broke ground on March 22nd on its four-line photovoltaic module manufacturing plant in the Dong Nam Industrial Park near Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh attended a ceremony at the site to mark the occasion.
The $300 million manufacturing plant is scheduled to begin commercial production in the second half of 2012 and employ around 600 associates. Up to 2,000 people will be involved in the construction. The plant will produce more than 250MW of First Solar’s advanced, thin-film solar modules per year on four manufacturing lines, with the flexibility for future expansion. First Solar plans to install some 3MW of its modules on the factory roof.
“Our Dong Nam factory will play a key role in our plan to nearly double First Solar’s capacity by 2012 and further reduce the cost of solar electricity,” said Bruce Sohn, President of First Solar. “We look forward to working closely with the Vietnamese authorities in the months and years to come.”
The factory will utilize First Solar’s continuous manufacturing process, which transforms a sheet of glass into a complete solar module in less than 2.5 hours. The factory is designed to maximize energy efficiency, which will contribute to the industry-leading energy payback time and low carbon footprint of First Solar’s thin-film modules.
The factory also will include a recycling plant, a key feature of First Solar’s commitment to cradle-to-cradle life cycle management and extended producer responsibility. The process currently recovers up to 90% of a module’s semiconductor materials and glass, by weight, for use in new solar modules and glass products.
All of First Solar’s factories worldwide are certified under the ISO14001 system for environmental standards, ISO9001 for quality and OHSAS 18001 for occupational safety and health.
The Dong Nam Industrial Park is a 342 hectare business development zone around 25 kilometers north of Ho Chi Minh City.