17 March 2011

First Solar to build 250MW CdTe PV module factory in Mesa

First Solar Inc, which makes thin-film photovoltaic (PV) modules based on cadmium telluride (CdTe) as well as providing engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services, says it will build its new US manufacturing center in Mesa, AZ, USA, about 30 minutes from its corporate headquarters in Tempe (where it employs about 200 associates).

The firm will invest about $300m in the new factory, which will create about 600 jobs and include four manufacturing lines with a total capacity to produce more than 250MW of modules per year. The new plant, in combination with First Solar’s recently expanded facility in Perrysburg, OH, will increase the firm’s US production capacity to more than 500MW per year.

Construction will begin in second-quarter 2011 and is expected to last a year, creating 400–500 construction jobs. Module shipments are scheduled to begin in third-quarter 2012. The facility is located on a 135-acre site that was previously home to a General Motors vehicle testing facility and is designed to accommodate future expansion. It will also include a 3MW rooftop solar installation as well as an extensive ground-mounted PV testing facility.

The factory will utilize First Solar’s continuous manufacturing process, which transforms a sheet of glass into a complete solar module in less than 2.5 hours, contributing to what is claimed to be the industry-leading energy payback time and low carbon footprint of systems using First Solar’s modules.

“Supportive state and federal policies have provided the visibility needed for the US to become our fastest-growing market, and the Mesa factory will enable us to meet that growing demand,” says president Bruce Sohn. “Programs such as Department of Energy loan guarantees and the solar investment tax credit are crucial to helping the renewable energy industry quickly reach the scale needed to compete with fossil fuels. Over the long-term, programs like these facilitate the market growth and investment that will support the future expansion of this factory,” he comments.

“First Solar’s presence in Arizona has been a great engine in driving our renewable energy sector forward,” notes Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. “Now its plans for a 135-acre technology campus – with 600 quality jobs and the potential for hundreds more – will propel Arizona into its second century, while promoting the Arizona Commerce Authority’s plan for business attraction, retention and expansion,” he adds.

“First Solar’s announcement to build a new factory in Mesa and deploy their domestically manufactured modules in solar projects like Agua Caliente in Yuma County will not only create job opportunities for Arizonans but also represents another important step toward greater energy security,” comments Arizona Senator John McCain.

First Solar is currently building two utility-scale PV projects in Arizona — the 290MW Agua Caliente project in Yuma County for power generation firm NRG Energy Inc of Princeton, NJ and the 17MW Paloma Solar Plant in Gila Bend for Phoenix-based electric utility APS (Arizona Public Service Company) — which are expected to create more than 500 construction jobs. First Solar’s North American project pipeline includes more than 2.4GW of projects, which are expected to create about 2000 construction jobs and drive $6bn of infrastructure investment over three years.

Like all of its PV modules, the entire production output of the Mesa factory will be part of First Solar’s pre-funded solar module collection and recycling program (claimed to be the first of its kind in the industry). Anyone wishing to dispose of First Solar modules can request collection at any time, at no additional cost, and the firm will collect the modules and recycle up to 90% (by mass) of the material for use in new products, including new solar modules and new glass products.

See related items:

First Solar-built Cimarron Solar Facility starts commercial operation

Tags: First Solar Thin-film photovoltaic CdTe

Visit: www.firstsolar.com

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