Evergreen Solar, one of America’s biggest thin-film solar panel manufacturers, is closing its doors and moving operations to China.
The company says a fall in the price of solar panels worldwide along with a more supportive business environment in the country that has become America’s main rival for global renewable energy market dominance as being the reasons for the move.
In an industry that is constantly innovating, Evergreen Solar – developer of String Ribbon silicon wafer solar technology – says the price of manufacturing solar panels has fallen to a point where governments worldwide are cutting renewable energy subsidies such as feed-in tariff schemes, which support the industry, leaving the company with no option but to move to a low-cost base of operations.
Evergreen’s primary thin-film solar panel markets are Europe and North America.
Michael El-Hillow, Evergreen’s President and Chief Executive Officer, said he regretted shutting down the Devens, Massachusetts plant, and that he was proud of the work carried out there. 800 jobs will be lost in the closure, but the company’s R&D facility in Marlborough will remain open for the foreseeable future.
Although the solar energy industry was expanding globally, Mr El Hillow said the United States would continue to be at a disadvantage in the solar energy market throughout 2011 because of “significant capacity expansions in low cost manufacturing regions combined with potential adverse changes in government subsidies in several markets in Europe.”
The company will install ten prototype furnaces in new thin-film solar manufacturing facilities in China and begin producing industry standard size solar panels in much greater quantities. Pilot production of approximately 25 megawatts is expected to begin by the fourth quarter of 2011.