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First Solar Plans to Reduce Panel Production at German Factory

First Solar Inc., the world’s biggest maker of thin-film solar panels, plans to reduce production at its factory in Germany as declining subsidies reduce European demand.

First Solar applied for government assistance to help offset the loss of income for the 1,200 employees in Germany who will be placed on a part-time work schedule, said Alan Bernheimer, a spokesman for the Tempe, Arizona-based company.

First Solar last year doubled capacity at the factory to 500 megawatts of panels annually, and plans to cut output in half for six months starting in March, once the government assistance is approved, he said.

“This was part of our 2012 guidance to scale back to 80 percent of our global production capacity,” Bernheimer said today in a telephone interview.

First Solar rose 7 percent to $49.03 at the close in New York. The shares have gained 45 percent this year.

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