AES Semigas


10 August 2023

First Solar selects Louisiana for its fifth US manufacturing facility

Cadmium telluride (CdTe) thin-film photovoltaic (PV) module maker First Solar Inc of Tempe, AZ, USA has selected the Acadiana Regional Airport in Iberia Parish, Louisiana as the location for its fifth fully vertically integrated manufacturing facility in the USA (announced at the end of July). Believed to be the single largest capital investment in the area’s history, the facility represents an investment of up to $1.1bn in expanding the USA’s capacity to produce its own photovoltaic solar modules. Expected to be completed in first-half 2026, it is forecast to grow the firm’s nameplate manufacturing capacity by 3.5GW to reach about 14GW in the USA in 2026.

First Solar’s investment in Louisiana is expected to create over 700 new direct manufacturing jobs in the state. The company — which is already believed to be the largest employer in the USA’s solar manufacturing sector, with over 2500 staff across the country — expects to have over 4000 direct employees in the country by 2026, including 850 new manufacturing jobs expected to be created in Alabama and Ohio and over 100 new R&D jobs planned in Ohio.

First Solar is unique among the world’s ten largest solar manufacturers for being the only US-headquartered company and not manufacturing in China. Its tellurium-based semiconductor material, which allows it to avoid any dependence on Chinese crystalline silicon supply chains, is the second most common photovoltaic technology available today.

“We are pleased to partner with Louisiana as we lean into our commitment to creating enduring value for America by expanding our solar manufacturing footprint and the domestic value chains that enable it,” says CEO Mark Widmar. “As we evaluated our options, Louisiana’s ability to deliver the talent we need stood out, thanks to its extensive workforce development initiatives and the presence of academic institutions such as the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, which now features a world-class solar energy lab,” he adds.

“We expect the plant to mirror the commitment to Responsible Solar evident at every First Solar manufacturing facility, which are among the cleanest, safest, and most diverse in the industry,” claims Widmar.

Since the start of this decade, First Solar has embarked on a $4.1bn manufacturing expansion strategy that has seen it grow from about 6GW of global nameplate capacity in 2020 to 13GW operational today, with about 12GW of nameplate capacity expected to come online in the USA and India between second-half 2023 and 2026. In addition to the Louisiana facility, First Solar commissioned its third Ohio factory earlier this year and is expected to complete its new facility in Alabama and the expansion of its existing Ohio footprint in 2024. It also expects its new facility in India to begin commercial production in second-half 2023. Additionally, the firm is investing up to $370m in a dedicated R&D innovation center in Perrysburg, Ohio, which is expected to be completed in 2024.

The new Louisiana facility will produce First Solar’s Series 7 modules, which are expected to be manufactured with 100% US-made components identified in the current domestic content guidance issued by the US Department of Treasury. First Solar anticipates that, once the new factory is completed and ramped, Series 7 modules will account for over two thirds of its annual domestic nameplate capacity. Series 7 modules currently produced at the firm’s Ohio facility are already manufactured with US-made glass and steel.

See related items:

First Solar to invest $1.1bn in fifth US manufacturing facility

First Solar selects Alabama for fourth US manufacturing facility

First Solar investing $270m in R&D innovation center in Perrysburg, Ohio

Tags: First Solar CdTe



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