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Solar Briefing: First Solar, Fujifilm, SunTrust, 2011 Installation Figures

Here’s the latest news on solar power installations, contracts, financing and market changes affecting corporate environmental and energy executives.

First Solar will close its manufacturing operations in Frankfurt, Germany, in Q4 2012 and indefinitely idle four production lines at its manufacturing center in Malaysia next month. Along with other personnel reductions in Europe and the U.S., First Solar will lay off 2,000 workers in its global workforce, or about 30 percent of its total workforce, the company said.

The restructuring moves, which are in response to deteriorating market conditions in Europe, are expected to reduce costs by $30-60 million this year and $100-120 million annually after that. First Solar said that it expects its average manufacturing cost to improve to $0.70-$0.72 per watt in 2012, and in 2013 average module manufacturing costs will range from $0.60 to $0.64 per watt.

Fujifilm’s Graphic Systems Division selected Conergy’s PH 235P panels for its 50.8 kW roof-top project on its North Kansas City, Mo., manufacturing facility. The 216-module system was installed by Brightergy and is expected to produce about 60,000 kWh annually, Conergy said.

It is the second solar project for Fujifilm in North America, and one of the first solar installations in the North Kansas City metro area, Fujifilm said.

Eastlight Renewable Ventures has completed two rooftop solar PV systems for SunTrust Banks at locations in Richmond, Va., and Orlando, Fla. SunTrust owns both arrays. During their 25-year life, the two arrays – a 60kW project in Florida and a 53kW system in Virginia – will produce more than 3.6 million kWh of electricity and offset more than 2,300 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, Eastlight said.

A solar PV grant from local utility Progress Energy supported the Orlando project, which was constructed by Superior Solar, and the Richmond project was constructed by Bagby Electric, Eastlight said.

The Solar Electric Power Association said that utilities added more than 62,000 new interconnected PV systems in 2011, resulting in nearly 1,500 MW of new utility solar capacity. This is a 120 percent increase in added capacity over 2010, which was also a record year. SEPA said 39 percent of the new solar capacity coming from utilities owning or contracting for solar power. Large solar projects, greater than 10 MW each, represent the bulk of this capacity, SEPA said.

Constellation Energy and Middle Township Board of Education in Cape May Court House, N.J., have completed an aggregate 1.5 MW (DC) solar project, Constellation Energy said. The system of 5,785 roof-mounted photovoltaic panels is installed at four Middle Township Public School District sites and is expected to generate more than 1.7 million kWh of electricity per year, or about 42 percent of the district’s electricity needs, Constellation Energy said.

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