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BP to Close its Solar Manufacturing Plant in Maryland

In an effort to cut its manufacturing cost of solar products, BP will be closing its solar panel manufacturing facility located in Frederick, Maryland and will move its solar business out of the U.S. to facilities in India, China and other countries.

According to the company, 320 workers will lose their jobs and it will retain people doing research, project development and sales work. About 100 people are employed in these areas. For three months, the employees who lost their jobs will receive full pay and other benefits entitled to them. In addition, assistance for job placement will also be provided by the company.

In an interview, Chief Executive of BP, Tony Hayward, said the company is committed to solar business and is moving to other countries where it can manufacture at lower costs. According to a news release from the company, by shutting down high-cost manufacturing plants, BP was able to cut down unit costs by over 45%.

BP had acquired the 50 % of the Frederick facility when in purchased Amoco Corp. in 1999 and the rest of the interest in the plant was purchased from Enron. The company has been in the solar business for almost 37 years. Though the company is ranked in the top 15 now, BP was second biggest solar company at one point of time.

Chief Executive of BP Solar, Reyad Fezzani, commented that the solar market in U.S which saw a growth of 87% in 2008 had a flat growth in 2009. The solar module prices also crashed by approximately 50%, Fezzani said. The company had also constructed and closed two plants in the U.S. since the facilities were not to able to manufacture commercial products.

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