Photovoltaic (PV) solar systems provider First Solar has announced to cut about 1,600 jobs across its global operations, as it shift focus to production of newer solar modules.

The layoffs account for nearly 27% of the company’s workforce of 6,000 in the US and abroad.

The restructuring move is also a result of a significant decline in solar panel prices, mainly due to fall in demand in China.

First Solar said: “The Company will reduce its workforce at its manufacturing facilities both domestically and internationally as a result of the transition from Series 4 to Series 6 production.”

The company plans to speed up the production of Series 6 module into 2018, with approximately 3GW of production expected in 2019.

Over the next two years, the company's existing production facilities will be converted to Series 6 production and the current Series 4 product will be phased out.

As part of the changes, First Solar will abandon the production of its Series 5 product.

First Solar CEO Mark Widmar said: "The acceleration of the Series 6 roadmap is an important development for First Solar.

"Following the completion of an internal review process to evaluate the best competitive response to address the current challenging market conditions, we have developed plans that will enable us to more quickly begin production of our Series 6 module.”

As a result of the transition in manufacturing to Series 6 and other competitive factors, First Solar expects to incur restructuring and asset impairment charges of $500 to $700m.

In October, First Solar commissioned the 52.5MW Shams Ma'an project in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

The plant produces clean electricity using over 600,000 First Solar Series 4 thin film modules.

Image: First Solar shift focus to production of newer solar modules. Photo courtesy of Business Wire.