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Norwegian firm picks Singapore for solar manufacturing complex

Norway’s Renewable Energy Corp (REC) said Friday it is investing $4.24 billion in building what is expected to be the world’s largest fully integrated solar manufacturing complex in Singapore.

The project was announced at a tele-conference between Oslo and the city-state. Renewable Energy Corp and the Economic Development Board (EDB) signed an agreement outlining both the terms and conditions related to the development of a new production site, the process of establishing a manufacturing complex, as well as operational and commercial conditions.

The Norwegian company “plans to incorporate wafer, cell and module production facilities and has the potential to reach 1.5 gigawatts in production capacity, roughly three-quarters of the total global output in 2006,” REC told a briefing. Singapore was selected after nine months of consideration and assessments of more than 200 sites. The factory will be located at Tuas View, west of downtown. “This is the world’s largest investment in a single integrated solar manufacturing project announced to date,” said EDB Managing Director Ko Kheng Hwa.

In addition to manufacturing, REC will also conduct research and development, process innovation and factory automation development activities in the city-state. REC’s decision is a “giant leap forward” in Singapore’s nascent solar industry, said Ko. The industry expects the price of solar energy to drop to the level of conventional energy in many markets in the decade starting 2010. Fast growth “will also be fuelled by the increasing pressure on the international stage, from politicians to corporations to individuals to commit to reducing global warming and harnessing energy from renewable sources,” Ko added.

The project will be organized in several phases. Pre-Engineering activities for the first phase are to be completed during the H1 of 2008. “Singapore had articulated an exciting vision and plan to develop the solar industry as a key growth area for its economy,” said Erik Thorsen, REC’s CEO. (m&