The plant, co-financed by First Solar and EDF Energies Nouvelles (EDF EN), will be operated by First Solar and sell its entire production of innovative, thin-film photovoltaic panels to EDF EN for its first 10 years of operation. Construction is expected to begin in the second half of 2010 and a full production capacity of more than 100 megawatts (MW) a year is to be reached in early 2012.
The plant is expected to create up to 400 jobs in the region of Aquitaine and represent a total investment of approximately 100 million (US $150 million). The decision to focus on Blanquefort for the manufacturing plant follows an extensive review of potential sites throughout the country. First Solar and EDF EN expect to finalize all remaining agreements in the coming weeks.
First Solar and EDF EN believe that France will become a major market for solar electricity in Europe thanks in large part to forward-looking French solar policies.
Blanquefort is the ideal location for our second manufacturing facility in Europe and producing there will bring us closer to the French solar market, which we believe has the potential to become one of Europes brightest, said Rob Gillette, Chief Executive Officer of First Solar. We look forward to deepening our relationship with France. Aquitaine has impressed us with its passion, excellent infrastructure and highly skilled workforce.
EDF Energies Nouvelles is very proud to see the achievement of a key milestone in this strategic partnership with First Solar. Securing a competitive supply of modules will allow us to optimize and speed up the deployment of our ambitious French solar program, said David Corchia, Chief Executive Officer of EDF Energies Nouvelles. We also believe that this will be a key catalyst in the development of a strong solar industry in France.
First Solars manufacturing site will also include a facility for recycling solar panels, Frances first such facility. First Solar operates the solar industrys first comprehensive, pre-funded collection and recycling program to encourage the recovery of its panels and re-use of materials.