SolarWorld to expand U.S. capabilities, start construction on new Oregon building

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SolarWorld will begin construction soon on a new building adjacent to its Hillsboro, OR, production plant. The 210,000 sq. ft. facility, scheduled for completion in November, will house a combination of logistics and manufacturing activities.

The green-field structure, the second phase of the company’s buildout at the site, will increase the overall plant space by 44%. SolarWorld’s main building–a converted former Komatsu semiconductor factory now home to an integrated solar-cell fab said to be the largest of its kind in North America–measures about 480,000 sq. ft. The company holds 100 acres of property at the Hillsboro location.

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The move keeps the company on track to reach its goal of ramping 500MW of annual cell-making capacity in Hillsboro by 2011 and of eventually employing some 1100 workers there.

The company said that the new facility will allow it to realign production operations to make more efficient space of the main building’s full capacity.

Company spokeswoman Anne Schneider told PV Tech that details of the revamped production flow, the timing of the manufacturing ramp, including the dates of arrival and installation of new equipment, have yet to be determined.

The new building will be split 50:50 between logistics and production functions, she added.

Although the company did not disclose the amount it planned to invest in the new building, SolarWorld said the expansion is indicative of its aggressive plans to build U.S. manufacturing capacity in step with the long-term deployment of solar technology–despite the economic downturn. The firm also has upstream and downstream U.S. production sites in Vancouver, WA, and Camarillo, CA, respectively.

“We are fully committed to not only marketing the proven renewable energy of photovoltaic technology in the United States but also manufacturing it here,” said Boris Klebensberger, SolarWorld’s COO and president of SolarWorld Industries America. “This project further demonstrates our resolve.”

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