Restarted First Solar plant draws in series of satellite projects

A series of investors announced intentions to develop satellite projects, including assembly facilities as well as component manufacturing factories, to serve the US’ First Solar project after it resumed construction with extended investment capital and capacity.

Giving up on finding a replacement, First Solar has decided to continue implementing its manufacturing plant in Vietnam

According to VIR’s sources, on November 10, Ho Chi Minh City Export Processing and Industrial Zones Management Authority (HEPZA) licensed Von Ardenne Vietnam JSC (Hong Kong) to develop a $300,000 factory to assemble equipment and machinery for the First Solar project.

The investor hired the available workshop of Saigon VRG Investment Holding Corporation (Saigon VRG)—the owner of the Southeast Industrial Park—and then installed equipment and machinery to start operations in January 2018.

Previously, Tran Nhu Hung, deputy general director of Saigon VRG, told VIR that dozens of investors dealing in manufacturing electric components and packaging arrived to the IP to find investment opportunities. All of them are satellite projects of First Solar.

First Solar’s project was licensed in January 2011 and started construction two months later. At the time, the investor said the facility’s $300-million first phase, with a production capacity of 250 megawatts per year, would start operations in late 2012.

According to plans, the total investment in the project would eventually reach $1.2 billion. It would be the first solar panel manufacturing facility in Vietnam employing advanced thin-membrane technology.

However, just eight months after the construction was kicked off, the investor announced postponing the project.

In 2012, First Solar announced plans to sell its factory and leave Vietnam, but failed due to unfinished legal procedures.

This July, after years of looking for suitable investors to take its place, First Solar decided to resume the project.

Accordingly, along with maintaining the installed equipment and implementing the construction of unfinished stages, First Solar has drawn up the environmental impact assessment report and completed the import-export procedures for goods and machinery to serve the plant’s operations.

According to the latest movements, HEPZA has granted the adjusted investment certificate for the project. Accordingly, the investor decided to pour in an additional $62 million. The reason for the capital adjustment is exchange rate differences leading to the real investment capital being higher than initially expected.

Besides, the investor is permitted to double the annual capacity of the plant to 5.31 million modules. Simultaneously, First Solar confirmed installing the most modern technology at the plant.

According to First Solar’s new plan, the plant will start operations in September 2018.

Source: VIR

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