SolarWorld Opens North America’s Largest Solar Cell Manufacturing Facility

October 21, 2008 by Jeff Shepard

SolarWorld AG opened what it describes as North America’s largest solar cell manufacturing facility. The new plant is located in Hillsboro, Oregon and is expected to reach a capacity of 500MW by 2011.

"The need for affordable and efficient energy alternatives represents a global issue and is more critical than ever," said Frank A. Asbeck, CEO of SolarWorld. "SolarWorld has more than 30 years invested in solar technologies and today is helping to bring real alternatives to market through a strategy focused on high-volume manufacturing. The new Hillsboro facility is our most shining example of this strategy in practice."

The company claims that the solar industry is expected to grow to $74 billion in 2017 from $20 billion in 2007. SolarWorld states that its fully integrated solar silicon wafer and solar cell production facility will fuel this burgeoning market. The company expects to employ 1,000 people at the Hillsboro facility by 2011 to meet this increasing demand worldwide.

SolarWorld Hillsboro is a 480,000 square foot facility, measuring one-quarter mile end-to-end. Raw silicon is transformed through the manufacturing process into solar cells that are shipped to the SolarWorld Camarillo (California) plant where they are processed into solar panels. SolarWorld acquired the Hillsboro factory, which belonged to Japan’s Komatsu Group, in March 2007 for $40 million and is investing more than $400 million in the new facility. The Hillsboro plant becomes home to SolarWorld Industries America headquarters.

"SolarWorld Hillsboro illustrates how we move the needle on delivering solar energy, and on a global economy that is fueled by green jobs," said Boris Klebensberger, Chief Operations Officer. "The Pacific Northwest possesses a hotbed of talent in both silicon manufacturing and clean-technologies. Oregon is the obvious choice for where to undertake this new level of solar cell manufacturing."

SolarWorld has production facilities in Germany and the United States, including in California, Oregon and Washington, and is establishing a joint venture for module production in South Korea. The company delivers its products to market from sales offices in Germany, Singapore, South Africa, Spain and the United States.