Solar is one of the few areas still attracting large investments (even if not at the rate of a year ago). As we’ve suggested several times over the past three or so years, electronics manufacturing processes have certain distinct similarities to solar cell production, and EMS companies are now beginning to warm to the market.
Flextronics, it has been learned, will add 400 workers to its Silicon Valley solar operations beginning in the first quarter of 2009. Jabil just inked a deal with Day4 Energy to build photovoltaic panels. These are small starts — the Jabil contract could save Day4 about $27 million in 2009, so the value to Jabil certainly would be in that range. But in doing so, they are joining companies big — Celestica, as we’ve noted, has had a
solar fuel cell line in Ireland for some time — and small Microboard in Connecticut that have invested in solar lines and are trying to make a go in what most feel will be a hot market for years to come.
The announcements are more symbolic than substantive — none of these measures will make much of a dent in the bottom lines of Celestica, Jabil or Flextronics in 2009. But it shows that the EMS industry leaders are continuing their pursuit of innovation, something we all should be doing constantly, in good times and bad.
EDIT: The Celestica line is a fuel cell, not a solar, line. My mistake.