First Solar Malaysia Sdn Bhd, which is operating at the Kulim Hi-Tech Park (KHTP), is laying off some 550 workers supporting its four production lines that will be indefinitely left idle starting May 1. Managing director P’ng Soo Hong told StarBizWeek that the workers, comprising technicians, operators and engineers, would be offered a voluntary separation scheme (VSS). “Indefinitely idling four of our 24 production lines means ceasing production on the four, but we are not selling our plant,” P’ng said. First Solar Malaysia produces solar panel or thin-film photovoltaic panels used for generating solar power through six plants on a 40ha site in KHTP. Its products are exported largely to Europe and the United States. Each plant is equipped with four production lines. To date, First Solar has invested about RM2.9bil in KHTP since 2008, employing about 3,400 workers. “The production at the 20 remaining lines may be idle temporarily to allow us to implement upgraded process technology changes and to better align production with expected market demand. This will also provide us the flexibility to increase capacity to 24 lines as we create incremental demand,” he said.