17 November 2022
First Solar selects Alabama for fourth US manufacturing facility
First Solar Inc of Tempe, AZ, USA has selected Lawrence County, North Alabama, as the location for its fourth American cadmium telluride (CdTe) photovoltaic (PV) solar module manufacturing facility. The new factory is part of a previously announced investment in scaling First Solar’s American manufacturing footprint to over 10GWDC by 2025, and is expected to create over 700 new direct jobs in the state.
The planned factory in Lawrence County’s Mallard Fox Industrial Park represents an investment of about $1.1bn and is expected to be commissioned by 2025, with a planned annual capacity of 3.5GWDC. The new fully vertically integrated facility will join three factories in Ohio, including one that is scheduled to come online in first-half 2023, to form part of First Solar’s expanded domestic manufacturing footprint.
“First Solar is a world-class manufacturer, and its solar modules are poised to play an increasingly important role in US energy self-sufficiency,” comments Governor of Alabama Kay Ivey.
The new facility is expected to advance a strategic push by the firm to scale its US manufacturing base in support of the effort to decarbonize the American economy and achieve self-sufficiency in renewable energy technologies.
“The passage of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 has firmly placed America on the path to a sustainable energy future,” believes First Solar’s CEO Mark Widmar. “This facility, along with its sister factories in Ohio, will form part of the industrial foundation that helps ensure this transition is powered by American innovation and ingenuity.”
Designed and developed at its R&D centers in California and Ohio, First Solar’s thin-film PV modules are said to set industry benchmarks for quality, durability, reliability, design and environmental performance. “Our commitment to Responsible Solar includes operating facilities that are among the cleanest, safest, and most diverse in the country,” says Widmar.
First Solar is unique among the world’s ten largest solar manufacturers for being the only US-headquartered company and for not manufacturing in China, and its latest investment is expected to bring the company’s total investment in American manufacturing to over $4bn.
In addition to the new Alabama facility, First Solar previously announced that it is investing $185m in upgrading and expanding its Northwest Ohio manufacturing footprint (currently the largest vertically integrated complex of its kind in the Western Hemisphere) by 0.9GWDC. In October, First Solar also announced that it plans to invest about $270m in a dedicated R&D innovation center in Perrysburg, Ohio. The new facility is believed to be the first of its scale in the USA and is expected to accelerate American development and production of thin-film photovoltaics.
First Solar estimates that its new investments in Alabama and Ohio, now estimated at $1.3bn, will add at least 850 new manufacturing jobs and over 100 new R&D jobs, taking its total number of direct jobs in the US to over 3000 people in four states by 2025 (making it the largest employer in the American solar manufacturing sector). By 2025, First Solar is also expected to support an estimated 15,000 indirect and induced jobs as a result of its ongoing and future manufacturing operations.