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New solar energy manufacturing site in Malaysia


Stringer - an equipment used in the solar panel manufacturing process


At the recent Bosch Malaysia financial results ’10 media briefing, SE/P Holger von Hebel announced Bosch’s plans to set up a new solar energy manufacturing site in Penang, Malaysia. With a planned investment of RM2.2 billion (EUR 520 million), the construction project is one of the biggest in the company’s history.


This latest investment of a solar energy plant in Penang, Malaysia marks a significant milestone for the Southeast Asia region, as it puts Malaysia on the map in the area of renewable energy for Bosch. Lauded as the country’s first fully integrated crystalline photovoltaics (PV) facility, the new manu­facturing site in Batu Kawan will mainly serve Asia’s solar energy market.


Speaking from Stuttgart, G1 Franz Fehrenbach said, “With this investment, Bosch is moving further along the path of internationalization that it has already set for its photovoltaics business.”


Why Malaysia?

SE initially explored and analyzed 45 sites in 23 countries, including manufacturing powerhouses like China. In Malaysia itself, the division evaluated over 10 sites.


Malaysia is located in the sun belt of the earth, where solar radiation levels are twice as high as in Germany.


After nine months of intensive evaluation, Batu Kawan, Penang was chosen. Its attributes such as the availability of a strong supply chain, excellent electrical and electronics clustering, good infrastructure support and talented human capital made it the choice location. The country’s reliable power supply is also decisive, particularly since this is indispensable for the challenging and sensitive production processes in photovoltaics.


Mr von Hebel said, “The planned facility will cover the entire value-added chain, from silicon crystals – known as ingots – and solar cells to the modules which can be installed on roofs or in solar power plants.”


Investment warmly welcomed by Penang State Government and key top government officials

Malaysia is currently ranked 5th in the world in terms of solar photo­voltaic power output. It is said that the presence of Bosch will indeed help spur the development of the solar energy industry in Malaysia.


“The decision by the Bosch Group to invest in this photovoltaics plant is particularly welcomed because it is in tandem with Malaysia’s plan to engage actively in high value, technology intensive industries related to new and renewable energy, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, nano­technology, and advanced machinery and equipment,” said Dato’ Sri Mustapa Mohamed, Minister of International Trade and Industry.


At another press conference in Penang, Chief Minister of Penang, YAB Lim Guan Eng said, “Penang is grateful to have this opportunity to have a prestigious working relationship with Bosch. A special project team will be formed, headed by myself and coordinated with invest Penang (a non-profit entity of the State Government established to promote investments within Penang) to work with Bosch to ensure complete execution and support of Bosch Solar Energy’s project in Penang.”


Construction to begin before end of the year

The groundbreaking ceremony for the 86-acre site is expected to occur in the last quarter of this year. Construction of the new facility is in order for production to start by end 2013.


By then, some 2,000 new associates will be working at the facility to produce solar power panels with a total output of 640 megawatts peak each year. The module production lines will reach an annual capacity of 150 megawatts peak. The megawatt peak (MWp) unit is commonly used in the solar energy industry to indicate the power rating and the best possible output of a solar cell.


The annual cell production of the new manufacturing site in Malaysia is expected to cover the energy needs of up to 300,000 households in Malaysia - twice the amount of central Europe. When the plant is running on full production capacity, it is anticipated to further facilitate Malaysia’s aspiration of becoming the second largest producer of solar cells in the world by 2020, increasing its market share to 17 percent after China.


Mr Holger von Hebel announced Bosch's plan to set up a new solar energy manufacturing site in Penang


Complementing the present competence centre in Arnstadt, Thuringia which saw an investment of more than EUR 500 million, the two major Solar Energy facilities in Germany and Malaysia are expected to help secure the future of Bosch’s photovoltaics business.


Although the Batu Kawan manufacturing site will mainly serve the Asian market, it will also produce components for manufacturing sites in other countries.


Bosch Solar Energy’s operations in Penang are expected to further develop local suppliers of services and indirect materials, especially in the areas of consumables / re­placement parts, as well as automation.


With this latest announcement, Bosch Malaysia eagerly welcomes the new division into the country.