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Robert Bosch Opens Solar Panel Manufacturing Plant in France

March 16 (Bloomberg) -- The solar unit of Robert Bosch GmbH, a division of the biggest car parts supplier, opened a solar module manufacturing plant in France as part of plans to expand production.

Bosch Solar Energy AG has started operations in a facility that can make 150 megawatts of crystalline solar modules a year at Venissieux near Lyon, according to a website statement. The investment was about 25 million euros ($32.7 million), Heide Traemann, a spokeswoman for the company, said by phone.

The facility is France’s largest solar manufacturing plant, the Erfurt, Germany-based unit said. The company has another plant in Germany that can make 150 megawatts of crystalline panels and 60 megawatts of thin-film products. Separately, Robert Bosch owns panel maker Aleo Solar AG.

The plant, completed in eight months, employs 200 workers that formerly made rail pumps at the site.

Bosch Solar also has plans for a 520 million-euro ingot, cell and module manufacturing facility in Malaysia. Its construction, scheduled for early 2012, was delayed late last year due to the “trouble” related to falling prices, Traemann said.

The unit bought the site in the Asian country last month and now is aiming to start construction in late 2012 or early 2013, she said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Marc Roca in London at mroca6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at landberg@bloomberg.net

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