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New Module Assembly Plant For France

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Photowatt, France's only solar industry manufacturer, has announced a new photovoltaic module assembly unit in Vaulx-Milieu (Isère department). The new unit will relocate back to France the final stage in the manufacture of solar panels intended for sale in European markets.

The unit, situated in Vaulx-Milieu, 10km away from the main Bourgoin-Jallieu facility where wafers and photovoltaic modules are currently produced, will house 11,000m2 in space dedicated to assembling cells into multi- and mono-crystalline solar photovoltaic modules. The assembly lines are currently being set up and are due to be certified during 2013. The facility will have its own quality and reliability lab and a logistics hub. Industrial operations are due to start up in October 2013, with volumes ramping up in early 2014. Ultimately, the plant will have 70 employees, who will be transferred from the Bourgoin-Jallieu unit.

The opening of this new plant will provide the European market with modules manufactured in France from start to finish. This latest investment in the Rhône-Alpes region reflects the drive by the EDF Energies Nouvelles Group to maximise the efficiency of its manufacturing facilities while completing the three principal phases of producing wafers, cells and modules locally. The assembly operations had been offshored in 2011 by Photowatt's previous owner. Assembly of the panels intended for sale outside Europe will continue to be outsourced to be as close as possible to the relevant local markets.

Photowatt, which has had a presence in the region since 1990, has 350 employees in Bourgoin-Jallieu.

"With this new plant in the Isère department, Photowatt is bolstering its leading role in the development of a 100% French solar photovoltaic industry and supporting local employment", commented Olivier Paquier, Chief Executive Officer of EDF ENR, which has full ownership of Photowatt. "More than ever before, Photowatt is the only fully integrated player in the French market covering the entire manufacturing chain from silicon to modules."


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