Thursday, 11 March 2010

Lopez-owned solar firm in P1 billion expansion

By MYRNA M. VELASCO
Manila Bulletin
http://mb.com.ph/articles/247150/lopezowned-solar-firm-p1-billion-expansion

First Philec Solar Corporation (FPSC), a wholly-owned subsidiary of First Philippine Holdings Corporation (FPHC) of the Lopez group will be coughing up $20 million (roughly P1.0 billion) for the Phase 2 expansion of its silicon wafer-slicing facility in Laguna.

According to FPSC chief executive Dan Lachica, the planned expansion has been built upon the company’s target to keep pace with “global growth for the solar industry,” which has been projected to be at 30 percent.

The phase 2 facility expansion, he noted, will cover a new building and equipment, and cash infusion will be undertaken through combination of loans, internally-generated funds and additional equity.

Since the company’s operations take-off in 2008, it already earmarked investments totaling $100 million – half of which has already been expended since then.

The output from FPSC’s facility is primarily allocated for the demand of American solar firm Sunpower Corporation, of which local subsidiary SunPower Philippines Manufacturing Ltd. is First Philippine Electric Corporation’s partner in the FPSC venture.

Lachica albeit clarified that with the capacity expansion, the company has the leeway to offer to other buyers, since its deal with SunPower is not necessarily exclusive.

"From our standpoint, we're still bullish about pursuing expansion projects because the demand is there,” the company executive said.

At full scale production utilizing 100 highly-automated wafer slicing machines, FPSC’s factory can churn out up to 240 million silicon wafers annually. Output of such proportion can already meet the requirements of two SunPower plants as well as those of other customers; and these may already underpin the need of about 720 megawatts of solar energy generation.

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