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Bosch builds manufacturing site in Malaysia

Posted: 28 Jun 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:PV? manufacturing? investment? Malaysia?

The Bosch Group is planning to build a new manufacturing site in Malaysia. The investment, worth around $750.58 million (520 million euros), is the biggest in Bosch's history. The planned manufacturing site will be in the Batu Kawan region in Penang, Malaysia.

"With this Investment, Bosch is moving further along the path of internationalization it has already set for its photovoltaic business," said Franz Fehrenbach, chairman of the Bosch board of management in Stuttgart.

Fehrenbach said that the new manufacturing site in Batu Kawan will mainly serve Asia's solar energy market, which is growing strongly. Components for manufacturing sites in other countries will also be produced at the Batu Kawan facility. In the coming years, the Asian market is set to see average annual growth of 30 percent.

"The planned facility will cover the entire value-added chain, from silicon crystals known as ingotsand solar cells to the modules which can be installed on roofs or in solar power plants," said Holger von Hebel, chairman of Bosch Solar Energy AG.

The construction of the new site is set to begin before the end of this year and is expected to be completed the following year. Start of production is planned for the end of 2013.

Some 2000 associates will be working at the new site in Penang, producing solar power plants with a total output of 640 megawatts peak each year. The module production lines will reach an annual capacity of 150 megawatts peak (MWp). The megawatt peak unit is commonly used in the solar energy industry to indicate the power rating, and thus the best possible output, of a solar cell. In practice, current efficiency depends strongly on where in the world the cell is in use. While the annual cell production of the new manufacturing site in Malaysia would cover the energy needs of 165,000 households in central Europe, the number of households covered in Malaysia would be almost twice as high, at up to 300,000.

In spring this year, the company decided to build another manufacturing facility for modules in Vnissieux, France, with the aim of better serving the French and southern European markets.

"By further internationalizing Bosch Solar Energy, we aim to further boost its development," said von Hebel.

This year, the company already expects its sales to exceed $1.44 billion (1 billion euros). The decision to build a new site in Asia reflects general developments in the global market for photovoltaic. Currently, there are five gigawatts installed. By 2020, the total installed output in the region is expected to reach some 130 gigawatts peak. This would be enough to meet the energy needs of 200 million people in Europe.

In Germany, which is currently Bosch Solar Energy AG's main market, total newly installed output is expected to remain constant at around 3.5 gigawatts per year.

"This is assuming that the political framework is reliable, that companies and customers have the planning security they need, and that the demand situation stabilizes once again," said von Hebel.

With an investment of more than 500 million euros in its manufacturing facility in Arnstadt, Thuringia, Bosch has more than tripled production capacity. In addition, a new research and development center is set to open at the site in the coming month, as well as a new headquarters and training center. By 2012, more than 1000 new jobs will be created. At the Arnstadt competence center, the next product generation and manufacturing processes are going to be developed.

"The Arnstadt site will serve markets in Europe. From Penang, we will serve the southeast Asian market, where we also see excellent opportunities for growth. The two major Bosch Solar Energy investments in Germany and Malaysia complement each other and help secure the future of our photovoltaic business," said Fehrenbach.

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