Evergreen Solar to Move Solar Panel Production from Massachusetts to China

11/5/09

[Updated and corrected---8:30 pm ET on 11/05/09]Marlboro, MA-based Evergreen Solar (NASDAQ:ESLR) said it will move its solar panel production from Massachusetts to China—dealing a blow to the clean technology economy in the commonwealth.

Evergreen plans to begin migrating the manufacturing of solar panels out of its Devens, MA, plant to a facility under construction in Wuhan, China, in mid-2010, the company announced in an earnings statement on Wednesday. A lull in demand for solar cells globally and other factors have caused the price of solar panels like the ones that Evergreen makes to plunge by more than 30 percent since mid-2008, when its Devens production facility opened, the firm said. However, the company said it does plan to continue producing its silicon wafers and cells in Devens. It will also produce the silicon wafers in China beginning next year.

An Evergreen spokesman was not immediately available for comment this afternoon, and it was unclear how relocating panel production would impact its work force in Massachusetts.

Manufacturing in China is intended to reduce overall production costs, and Evergreen said it is receiving a $33 million loan from Chinese government to help cover the expenses of moving into a new plant that the company will lease from a contract manufacturing firm called Jiawei Solar. Evergreen’s move may sting some Massachusetts politicians and taxpayers; the state committed $23 million in grants to the firm, behind considerable support from Gov. Deval Patrick and his administration, to support its manufacturing in Devens. And Ian Bowles, the state’s secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, said in a statement about two years ago when construction of the Devens plant began that “we are breaking ground not only on a factory, but on the commonwealth’s clean energy future.”

Evergreen said it will manufacture its “String Ribbon” wafers at the facility it is building and will own in China, and that the wafers will then be sent to the the plant that its partner Jiawei Solar is building to convert the wafers into solar cells, which are used to make solar panels. The worldwide solar panel market has taken a beating over the past year or so due to reduced government spending or subsidies for the products in Spain and Germany, both of which are big solar panel users, as well as lower-than-projected demand in other countries such as the U.S., according to a recent report by Lux Research, which has an office in Boston. [Editor's note: the above paragraph was corrected to say that Evergreen, not its Chinese manufacturing partner, will build and own the facility where its silicon wafers will be produced in China. There are also added details from the company about the overall production process.]

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  • Tyler

    Dear Evergreen solar. I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for fleecing our country and outsourcing your product over sea’s. I am involved in this industry and have a say in solidifying solar modules for projects on the West Coast. Please don’t use my company when forcasting your 2010 production planning. I trust your current business plan supports paying back the money you took from US? ( 20+ million ) Given Americans aren’t making your product, can your headquarters move to Asia too? We don’t want you here anymore.
    Thanks for taking the opportunity to contribute to the demise of this great country.

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  • stonewall

    Shipping materials around the world to build green tech is NOT a green way to do it. I hope that everyone considering solar panels for their homes and businesses think about the carbon footprint associated with worldwide shipping of building materials.

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  • http://howtosolarpanels.blogspot.com build your own electric solar panel

    Well, it is not a surprise since China have all the resources and it is a damn lot cheaper than US

  • Pete Ballard

    Let me add my thanks to Evergreen Solar as well. Thank you for ripping off the tax-payers of Mass. and the entire country. Also, let me thank you for turning your backs on America and American workers. Finally, let me thank you for showing your true colors (red). I hope when the Communist Chinese government confiscates your facilities and whatever profits you think are yours, you remember the free market you threw under the bus here in the US. Disloyal traitors.

  • Luke

    It’s not bad enough that Wall St has screwed America. Now Evergreen takes our money and runs. I hope the Government makes you pay back the money they gave you. (Traitors)

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  • Akpore Peter

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  • http://bestnetips.com/ResidentialSolarPanel alfred

    Taking the profit you generate from your plant in China back to US HQ; is the way to prove that you are not a traitor; but making wise decision to safe guard the interest of shareholders by moving to a cheaper location to reduce the cost of manufacturing and hence increase the company profit.

    A lot of Japanese multinationals are doing that and they are the most loyal corporates in the world to their own country and not traitor but smart investor. Be open minded and prove your decision to move is correct, is most important !

  • http://makeownsolar.org Teri Haul

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