BP Solar is to cut back on its manufacturing activities in the solar-cell business to reduce costs and improve its competitiveness.

As a result, module assembly will be phased out at its Frederick facility in Maryland and its cell-manufacture and module-assembly facilities in Madrid, Spain, will close.

The phase-out of module assembly at Frederick will result in the loss of around 140 jobs out of about 600. In Spain, 480 positions out of 575 will be eliminated, of which around 280 are at the Tres Cantos site and around 200 at San Sebastian de Los Reyes.

The competitive high-technology manufacturing of ingots, wafers and cells will continue at Frederick. Engineering, technology product development, sales and marketing and other business support functions will also remain at both Frederick and Madrid.

In 2008, BP Solar signed a series of strategic contracts with a number of global suppliers of wafers and cells to supplement its own manufacturing capacity.

Despite the reductions announced this week, BP Solar’s total global manufacturing capacity is expected to increase in 2009 and 2010.