25 November 2002 – BP Solar has announced it will cease to manufacture thin film solar modules in order to concentrate on developing the market for the crystalline-based products it manufactures.
“BP Solar is positioning itself to continue sales growth of roughly 30 per cent per year,” said Harry Shimp, BP Solar president and CEO. “That means focusing our resources on those markets and technologies that offer the best probability of success. Crystalline production capacity represents more than 85 per cent of BP Solar’s global manufacturing operations, and recent technical and manufacturing cost improvements bode well for its future.”
Thin film manufacturing will be halted at the Fairfield, California facility and the facility will be converted to serve as the centre for North America warehousing and distribution as well as the West Coast base for sales and
marketing. The company will also close its Toano, Virginia thin film plant if it cannot identify a buyer by end of 2002. The associated technology centre will close immediately. The plant closures will result in the elimination of about
260 jobs: 100 in Fairfield and 160 in Toano, although some 145 manufacturing jobs may transfer to a new operator.
On the exit from thin film manufacturing, Shimp said, “We have worked very hard with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and other partners on the research and development of thin film technology. However, while the technology continues to show promise, lack of material demand and present economics do not allow for continued investment.”
“The decision to exit the thin film business was made more difficult by the impact of these plant closures on a very dedicated and hard working group of employees,” Shimp said. Affected employees will receive a comprehensive
severance package from the company.
In the next few months, BP Solar will launch an industry first: a branded sales and marketing initiative designed to connect homeowners with affordable solar electric systems. After extensive market research, BP Solar intends to roll
out the program in California in January and duplicate it elsewhere around the world.
BP Solar, headquartered in Linthicum, MD, is one of the world’s largest solar electric companies with nearly 20 per cent of global market share and approximately $300m in revenues. The company has product deployed in over 160 countries, operates manufacturing plants in the US, Spain, Australia, and India, and employs nearly 2000 people in its facilities and offices worldwide.