Robert Bosch to set up solar panel manufacturing facility in Penang

Posted on June 23, 2011. Filed under: Energy |

The Star-

PETALING JAYA: Stuttgart-based technology company Robert Bosch GmbH is investing RM2.2bil in a solar panel manufacturing plant in Batu Kawan, Penang, to mainly serve Asia’s growing demand for solar energy.

The new plant would provide employment opportunities for 2,000 people, which would be an increase of some 40% of Robert Bosch’s current workforce in the country, said Robert Bosch solar energy division head and Bosch Solar Energy AG chairman, Holger von Hebel.

He said this at a briefing yesterday following the announcement of the company’s results for the financial year ended Dec 31, 2010 (FY10).

The investment comes on the heels of a recent announcement to build another manufacturing facility in Venissieux, France, to serve the southern European markets.

Von Hebel: Production will start by the end of 2 013.

Von Hebel said construction of the Batu Kawan plant, to be located on an 80-acre site, would begin before the end of this year, with production to start by the end of 2013.

He said the new plant would also support and deliver components to other plants in North America and Europe.

The venture, said to be one of the largest overseas investment ever made by Robert Bosch, would further cement the global strategy of the company’s photovoltaics business and presence in Asia, where solar energy demand is expected to see an average annual growth of 30% in the coming years.

“The planned facility will cover the entire value-added chain, from silicon crystals known as ingots and solar cells to the modules which can be installed on roofs or in solar power plants,” von Hebel said.

He said the plant would have an annual capacity of 800 megawatts peak (MWp) for wafers and 620MWp peak for cells. This would be on top of producing solar power plants with a total output of 640MWp and module production lines of 150MWp.

According to von Hebel, the company expect sales from the solar energy division to exceed one billion euros this year.

“The decision to build a new site in Asia reflects general developments in the global market for photovoltaics. By 2020, total installed output in the region is expected to reach some 130 gigawatts peak,” he said.

He added that the company’s main plant in Arnstadt, Germany, together with the Batu Kawan plant would complement each other and help secure the future of the photovoltaics business.

Robert Bosch (SEA) Pte Ltd and Robert Bosch Sdn Bhd managing director Martin Hayes said South-East Asia contributed RM2.07bil in sales turnover for FY10, with Malaysia contributing RM555mil, a 37% increase from FY09.

“Last year saw an outstanding performance for the region coming after the recession,” he said, adding that Malaysia was the second-largest contributor to Robert Bosch’s sales in South-East Asia.

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