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First Solar to create 600 U.S. jobs

Company says two new plants, and expansions at others, will bring its yearly manufacturing capacity of thin-film photovoltaic modules to 2.7 gigawatts by 2012.

First Solar
Employees at First Solar's Germany plant. First Solar

Thin-film solar manufacturer First Solar announced Thursday it's building two new manufacturing plants to accommodate an expected influx of work.

One plant will be built in the U.S. and the other in Vietnam, but the company has not released any details on exactly where it plans to build them within those countries.

Both plants are scheduled to be completed by 2012 and to create jobs for 600 people apiece. Together the plants, once fully operational, are expected to produce 500 megawatts' worth of thin-film photovoltaic modules annually, according to First Solar.

The introduction of the new plants, coupled with previously announced expansions of existing plants in Germany, France, Malaysia, and Ohio in the U.S., will bring the company's yearly production capacity for thin-film solar modules up to 2.7 gigawatts.

For comparison, First Solar estimates that it will produce a total of 1.4 gigawatts' worth of modules in 2010.

The expansion will not surprise anyone who's been following the company's progress. First Solar has announced a string of very large supply deals within the last two years.

In August 2009, it signed a deal with Southern California Edison to supply 250 megawatts of its thin-film photovoltaic solar modules for the Desert Center solar project in Riverside County and 300 megawatts for the solar project in San Bernardino County.

And perhaps most notable, in September 2009 the company announced it had signed a memorandum of understanding to partner on China's massive 2,000-megawatt power plant planned for Inner Mongolia.

Correction at 11:49 a.m.: Due to an editing error, this story initially misreported the number of jobs that will be created by the two new plants. First Solar predicts they will each create jobs for 600 people.