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Wednesday, 24 August 2011

US-based Solexel to invest RM2.8bil in Malaysia

Wingert (left) presenting a souvenir to Najib. With them are Mukhriz (second from left) and Abdul Ghani.
PUTRAJAYA: Silicon Valley-based solar photovoltaic (PV) cell manufacturer Solexel Inc plans to invest RM2.8bil over the next five years in a plant in Senai Hi-Tech Park, Iskandar Malaysia.
The facility would be built on a 100-acre site and would have a targeted production capacity of 1GW of solar PV cells a year, said Solexel president and chief executive Michael Wingert.

“The plant is expected to generate export revenue of more than RM3bil per year and we are keen to contribute to the development of a domestic market for solar PV cells,” he said at the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Solexel Malaysia and Senai High Tech Park Sdn Bhd (SHTP) yesterday.

Construction will start in the first quarter next year and the plant is scheduled to begin production at the end of 2013. Its output will be exported mainly to Europe and the United States.

Wingert said this would be Solexel's first overseas venture. It will operate in Malaysia via wholly-owned subsidiary Solexel (M) Sdn Bhd.

“We have reviewed a number of locations in Malaysia and decided on Senai Hi-Tech Park because of its proximity to a significant sea port and airport, as well as the availability of additional land for the construction of a supply infrastructure to Solexel,” Wingert said.

At full capacity, the plant will employ 2,300 people.

“Through our spending, job creations and transfer of know-how, we expect to strongly boost Malaysia's high-technology and clean energy economy,” he added.

SHTP chief executive Datuk Ahmad Shukri Tajuddin said Solexel's investment would “provide huge economic multiplier effects to the whole of Iskandar Malaysia region”.

The MoU signing was witnessed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Mukhriz Tun Mahathir and Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman.

Mukhriz said many solar PV cell manufacturers had set up plants in Malaysia, opening up opportunities for foreign and local investors to develop a solar cluster.

“Some of the manufacturers in Kulim Hi-Tech Park and Selangor Science Park II have even started exporting their thin-film solar cells,” he said.

“The Solexel venture will be a major boost for the economy and proves that our efforts to attract foreign direct investments, especially in the solar industry, continues to bear fruit,” he added.

Mukhriz said that as at June this year, the total investments approved for solar PV industry were RM15.8bil, of which RM1.1bil came from domestic investors.

“Revenues for the companies in the industry are forecast to be RM10bil for the next three years,” he said.

The industry now has 23 approved projects, of which 19 are in active planning.

Mukhriz added that Johor was turning out to be the state with the highest number of investments this year.

From January to June, Johor attracted investments totalling RM4.52bil, excluding oil and gas as well as the Solexel investment.

ORIGINAL POST: http://biz.thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2011/8/24/business/9355429&sec=business


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