July 21, 2011 / 11:35 PM / 6 years ago

BP Solar to stop panel sales, focus on projects

LOS ANGELES, July 21 (Reuters) - BP Solar is closing its U.S. manufacturing facility and will refocus is business on developing solar power projects rather than making panels for them, a company spokesman said on Thursday.

The Frederick, Maryland, facility had not been producing solar modules since last year, yet 80 employees remained at the office. Some of those employees will be offered positions in Houston, where BP Solar's headquarters moved less than a year ago from San Francisco.

BP Solar is a unit of BP Plc , which has its U.S. operations in Houston.

"We are going to exit our module-only sales through our distribution network," spokesman Pete Resler said. "Looking at the market today... we think we can have a much stronger business going forward focusing on developing projects."

BP Solar has about 120 megawatts of solar projects under construction around the world, Resler added.

Prices on solar modules have plummeted in recent years, aided by an influx of cheap products from China into the market. Many module manufacturers, including Sharp Corp , SunPower Corp and First Solar , have acquired project developers in recent years to gain exposure to that end of the solar market and create a reliable channel of demand for their products.

BP's Frederick facility will close by the end of the first quarter of 2012, Resler said, adding that at its peak, the facility had several hundred employees.

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