Site for solar panel plant

First Solar and EDF Energies Nouvelles (EDF EN) are in the final stages of negotiations with the town of Blanquefort in France to establish a new solar panel manufacturing plant.

The plant, to be co-financed by First Solar and EDF EN, is expected to create up to 400 jobs in the region of Aquitaine and will represent a total investment of around €100m (£89m).

The companies hope the move will help them increase their activities in the French solar market, which they claim is set for significant growth.

Rob Gillette, chief executive of First Solar, said: ‘Blanquefort is the ideal location for our second manufacturing facility in Europe and producing there will bring us closer to the French solar market, which we believe has the potential to become one of Europe’s brightest.

David Corchia, chief executive of EDF EN, added: ‘Securing a competitive supply of modules will allow us to optimise and speed up the deployment of our ambitious French solar programme. We believe that this will be a key catalyst in the development of a strong solar industry in France.’

The facility will be operated by First Solar, which will sell its entire production of thin-film photovoltaic panels to EDF EN for the first 10 years of operation. Construction at the site is scheduled to begin in the second half of 2010 and a full production capacity of more than 100MW a year is expected to be reached in early 2012.