First Solar Inc., Tempe, Ariz., once a shining star in the solar space, today announced that it was cutting its global workforce by 30%, about 2,000 positions, “in response to deteriorating market conditions in Europe and to reduce costs and align its organization with sustainable market opportunities.” A press release announcing the move said First Solar will close its manufacturing operations in Frankfurt (Oder), Germany, in the fourth quarter of 2012 and that the company will indefinitely idle four production lines at its manufacturing center in Kulim, Malaysia, on May 1. The company will also reduce personnel in Europe and the United States.
In the press release announcing the move Mike Ahearn, chairman and interim CEO, said, "After a thorough analysis, it's clear the European market has deteriorated to the extent that our operations there are no longer economically sustainable, and maintaining those operations is not in the best long-term interest of our stakeholders.
"The solar market has fundamentally changed, and we are quickly adapting our market approach and operations to maintain and build upon our competitive advantage. After a period of robust growth, First Solar is scaled to operate at higher volumes than currently exist following the reduction of subsidies in key legacy markets. As a result, it is essential that we reduce production and decrease expenses to reflect the smaller volume of high-probability demand we forecast. These actions will enable us to focus our resources on developing the markets where we expect to generate significant growth in coming years." After topping $300 per share in 2008, First Solar's stock has tumbled to $21 at press-time. Details