28 February 2023
Lightsource bp orders 4GW of First Solar modules, for US projects in 2026-2028
First Solar Inc of Tempe, AZ, USA says that San Francisco-based Lightsource bp (a 50:50 joint venture with bp that develops and manages solar energy and energy storage projects) has ordered 4GWDC of its cadmium telluride (CdTe) thin-film photovoltaic (PV) modules, for delivery between 2026 and 2028 for projects in the USA. This latest deal follows a prior order by Lightsource bp in 2021 for up to 4.3GWDC, putting the firm on a path to becoming one of the world’s largest users of First Solar’s solar technology.
“The US solar industry is at a pivotal moment, poised to expand at an exponential rate with the Inflation Reduction Act serving as the catalyst,” says Kevin Smith, chief executive officer, Americas, Lightsource bp. “We are seizing the opportunity by not just growing our 20GW development pipeline across the United States but also creating sizeable demand for our US-based partner First Solar which, in turn, is investing in innovation and manufacturing, and supporting thousands of direct and indirect American jobs.”
The deal includes orders for First Solar’s Series 6 Plus and next-generation Series 7 modules. Designed and developed at its R&D centers in California and Ohio, First Solar’s PV modules are claimed to set industry benchmarks for quality, durability, reliability, design and environmental performance.
Lightsource bp has committed to recycling solar panels across all of its projects. As part of this, it will use First Solar’s recycling program to manage modules at the end of their operating lives. First Solar operates a recycling program that provides closed-loop semiconductor recovery for use in new modules, while also recovering other materials including aluminium, glass and laminates.
Additionally, Lightsource bp has set targets to reduce Scope 1, 2 and 3 greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions. First Solar has also set targets to reduce its Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions. First Solar is reckoned to be the first PV manufacturer to have its product included in the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) global registry for sustainable electronics.
“Our relationship with Lightsource bp is a partnership in growth,” says First Solar’s chief commercial officer Georges Antoun. “We enable their growth with certainty through long-term pricing and supply commitments, and advanced technology, while they enable ours by providing the certainty of demand we need to invest in manufacturing.”
First Solar is expanding its US manufacturing capacity, with a third factory expected to come online in Ohio in first-half 2023 and a fourth factory under construction in Alabama expected to be commissioned by 2025. Both will produce the Series 7 modules ordered by Lightsource bp. First Solar’s new $1.1bn Alabama factory and $185m expansion of its existing manufacturing footprint in Ohio are expected to bring its total investment in American manufacturing to over $4bn. The firm’s annual US nameplate manufacturing capacity is forecast to expand to 10.6GWDC by 2026.
First Solar estimates that its new investments in Alabama and Ohio will add at least 850 new manufacturing and over 100 new R&D jobs, taking its total number of direct jobs in the USA to over 3000 in four states by 2025 (believed to make it one of the largest employers in the American solar manufacturing sector).