First Solar Inc. (FSLR:US), the world’s largest maker of thin-film solar panels, will delay the close of a German plant until the end of this year to meet unexpected strong demand in Europe.
The company is increasing production now at its factory in Frankfurt an der Oder, Germany, and will scale back in the fourth quarter, Brandon Mitchener, a spokesman for Tempe, Arizona-based First Solar, said today.
The company had planned to shutter the plant in October as part of a global restructuring that also includes firing 30 percent of its staff. Waning government support for solar energy in Europe is slowing demand for panels, and at least four German solar manufacturers including Q-Cells SE (QCE), once the biggest cell maker, filed for insolvency since December.
First Solar “is returning to a full work schedule” at the factory, Mitchener said today in an e-mail. The company expects to operate the plant “near full production capacity through October, and then begin to wind down production and close the facility by year-end.”
The short-term increase is “due to unexpected order intake in Europe” while the “long-term trend remains downward” for the region, Mitchener said in an interview.
First Solar shares rose 21 percent to $14.95 at the close in New York, the biggest gain since April 2009.
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