ECD airs plans to build 30MW solar laminate production facility in France

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Energy Conversion Devices has announced plans to build a 30MW amorphous-silicon thin-film solar laminate manufacturing facility in France. The company said it has begun its initial site selection process and is evaluating various sites, particularly in the Alsace region.

The move comes amid restructuring, production cutbacks, and layoffs at ECD’s U.S. production fabs.

Citing France as “one of the world’s fastest-growing and most progressive solar markets,” ECD president/CEO Mark Morelli said the country “has expressed its long-term support of alternative energy in the ‘Grenelle de l’environnement’ objectives, and the recent change to its feed-in-tariff structure establishes a sustainable foundation to meet those objectives.”

(Editor’s note: To read more on changes to France’s FIT, click here.)

“We are pleased that France is continuing to support the development of high added-value technology and innovative solutions like Uni-Solar laminates, which protect the aesthetics of France’s cultural heritage by integrating into the building architecture,” he continued. “We are also pleased that France is clearly showing leadership to avoid the speculative bubble we have seen in solar energy in other markets in the past.”

“We relocated our European headquarters to Paris last year, and believe it is now an excellent time to locate manufacturing in this market close to our channel partners and customers. With the new tariff structure resolved, and the high concentration of low-load bearing buildings that are ideally suited for our lightweight and low impact Uni-Solar solutions, we see growing demand for our solar products in France,” the company exec said.

“We look forward to working with French officials to identify the right support to realize this project, and to create local jobs in both research and development and manufacturing,” added Morelli.

The expected terms of the project–including the anticipated launch date–were not disclosed and are subject to completion, according to the company.

ECD becomes the second thin-film PV manufacturer to recently announce plans to build a factory in France. First Solar and partner EDF Energies Nouvelles said in December that they intend to start construction on a 100MW CdTe facility near Bordeaux during the second half of 2010.

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