French renewable power company EDF Energies Nouvelles (EDF EN) and First Solar have set up a venture to build what is being described as France's largest solar panel manufacturing plant. The plant will have an initial annual capacity of more than 100MWp. Under the terms of the arrangement First Solar will build and operate the plant in France. The plant represents an expected investment of more than €90 million. At full production projected for the second half of 2011 the plant will employ more than 300 people. The companies are still studying where to build it although it was likely they would opt for southern France. A report filed by Reuters indicated that the companies are looking closely at a site in Saint-Auban in the Alpes-de-haute-Provence department. First Solar's manufacturing site 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. The move marks First Solar's foray into the French market. The company already has manufacturing facilities in the US Germany and Malaysia. French Energy Minister Jean-Louis Borloo said that 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 EN had raised €500 million last year to finance its expansion in the photovoltaic sector. It has set itself a target of installing 500MWp in photovoltaic capacity for its own account by 2012. "The fact that EDF is providing guaranteed offtake from the new plant -- making it a major First Solar customer for 2011 and beyond -- shows its clear interest in developing solar generation capacity " Raymond James alternative energy analyst Pavel Molchanov said in a client note. Read more: First Solar Europe 30th July 2009 Thin Film Today news deskSourceSource:
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