Evergreen Solar might expand to Asia
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May 28, 2008 08:25 PM
Evergreen Solar Inc., of Marlborough, expects to be profitable in the first quarter of 2009 and is considering expanding into Asia under a plan to dramatically boost capacity, its chief executive, Richard Feldt, said today.
The company last month reported a first-quarter net loss of $25,000, or break-even on a per share basis, compared with a loss of $6.2 million, or 9 cents per share, a year earlier.
Evergreen’s new photovoltaic solar cell manufacturing plant — stretching the length of more than three football fields — opens in June at the former Fort Devens and will be capable of producing 80 megawatts of wafer cells and panels a year.
Evergreen has signed a new long-term sales contract with Germany’s Ralos Vertriebs GmbH, worth about $750 million for panel deliveries, bringing its contractual backlog to about $1 billion.
The panels, to be delivered beginning in 2008 and extending through 2013, would be manufactured at Devens.
The company has yet to identify an Asian country to base a plant. A rival, SunPower Corp, announced this month that it would build a plant in Malaysia capable of producing more than 1,000 megawatts of cells per year.
Evergreen Solar’s thin-film solar products require less of the costly silicon used to make traditional solar cells and panels, allowing it to carve out a niche as a tight global market for silicon constrains capacity expansion in the industry.
But a surge in solar shares is stoking concerns over lofty valuations. Evergreen’s stock price jumped 134 percent from the start of 2007 to the end of the year. California-based SunPower soared 253 percent in the same period, and Colorado-based Ascent Solar Technologies jumped 785 percent.
Evergreen Solar shares closed 6.2 percent higher at $11.26 today. But the shares are still down 35 percent so far in 2008.