First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ:FSLR) said Wednesday that it is adding 120 more employees at its Perrysburg Township plant in Ohio. The solar panel manufacturer will boost production next year to meet strong demand. Steve Krum, a spokesman for the Tempe, Arizona-based company, said that these employees will be assigned to two new production lines that are currently being installed.
Demand is picking up once again
The new production lines will have an annual production capacity of 1.9 million to 2.1 million panels, enough to generate 190MW of power. First Solar’s Perrysburg Township plant currently has four production lines and 1,000 employees. The new lines are expected to get operational by June 2015. Mr Krum said the company saw consistent need for additional solar installations.
Over the past few years, solar panel demand declined considerably. As a result, the company had to shut down its manufacturing plant in Germany. But the demand is growing once again. First Solar CEO Jim Hughes said at the company’s Q3 earnings call that the company has seen solid demand for utility-scale projects worldwide. The company is exploring solar opportunities in India, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Australia, Chile and other countries.
First Solar gets 65% tax credit from Ohio
Krum said the new production lines in Ohio will produce a combination of FS Series 3 and FS Series 4 modules. The company is also planning to beef up production capacity at its another plant in Penang, Malaysia. The Ohio Department of Development spokesperson Stephanie Gostomski said the Tempe-based company receives 65% tax credit for job creation. So, it won’t receive any further tax assistance.
First Solar released its third-quarter results last week. The company reported Q3 revenue of $889 million, up 63% sequentially but down 30% from the corresponding quarter last year. Earnings came in at $0.61 per share, excluding one-time charges. Analysts were projecting $0.64 a share in earnings. The company had earned $2.28 per share in the same quarter last year.
First Solar shares fell 1.55% to $48.82 in pre-market trading Thursday.