US-backed First Solar’s factory in Ho Chi Minh City will not see the light of day just yet after the firm said it was putting the facility under wraps for the time being.
The firm, which manufactures photovoltaic thin-film solar modules, last week announced it would delay $300 million factory in Cu Chi district, Ho Chi Minh City. “Due to supply-demand imbalances in the world solar market, regrettably the First Solar plant in Dong Nam Industrial Zone will be postponed until market demand requires the additional capacity,” said Tymen DeJong, First Solar’s vice president.
He said First Solar would complete construction of its factory, “but has postponed new hiring and importation of equipment until the project is reactivated”. The company has announced that construction of the factory has involved some 2,000 workers. DeJong said First Solar looked forward to working together with Vietnamese authorities to bring the facility into operation when there was a robust market for production.
The project – the biggest of its kind in Ho Chi Minh City in the first 10 months of this year – was granted an investment certificate from the municipal people’s committee in January this year.
Speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony in March, Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee chairman Le Hoang Quan said: “This is a major foreign direct investment project employing the world’s most modern and advanced technology, and it will help draw more foreign investment, and promote the development of domestic supporting industries.” The original plans had commercial production kicking off by mid-2012 with a further 600 workers to be taken on.
The second phase is slated to begin in 2013 and complete in February 2014. The plant design includes four production lines each with capacity of 59.6 megawatts per year. The first-phase capacity is set at 238MW annually and second-phase capacity will be 600MW per year. The plant is designed to maximise energy efficiency, which will contribute to the industry-leading energy payback time and a low carbon footprint for First Solar’s thin-film modules.