NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- There's been a steady stream of positive news this week from the Solar Power International conference in Los Angeles, and one of the bigger pieces of news is that First Solar ( FSLR - Get Report) plans to build two new four-line manufacturing plants boosting manufacturing capacity by nearly 500 megawatts.

One of the two plants will be located in the U.S., a boon to green energy manufacturing. First Solar says each new plant will create 600 jobs -- the second plant to be located in Vietnam. Sites have not been selected.


After First Solar's 2010 expansion in Europe and at its existing Ohio plant, the U.S. solar bellweather's capacity will reach 2.7 gigawatts by 2012.

"These expansions provide proximity to growing U.S. demand while supporting our roadmap to drive down the cost of clean, sustainable solar electricity," said First Solar CEO Rob Gillette. "Effective government policies provide long-term visibility and enable sustainable markets."

Some might debate the second part of Gilette's comment, but there has been little doubt from the solar manufacturers themselves that 2011 demand is looking strong, regardless of looming government subsidy cuts in Europe, and that the huge capacity expansions going on between First Solar and the Chinese solar module makers won't lead to a massive supply glut.

On Wednesday, the Solar Foundation announced the results of the first ever U.S. solar jobs census, and found that solar employers plans to increase hiring 26% next year. It was the first solar jobs ever conducted, and it seems that First Solar might be among the manufacturers driving those optimistic numbers about coming demand in solar and the solar job market in the U.S.

First Solar shares were up by roughly 3% in early morning trading, to $140.97.

--Written by Eric Rosenbaum in New York.

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