AES Semigas


28 July 2023

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

Cadmium telluride (CdTe) thin-film photovoltaic module maker First Solar Inc of Tempe, AZ, USA is to build a fifth manufacturing facility in the USA (in a yet-to-be-determined location), investing up to $1.1bn in further expanding the country’s capacity to produce its own solar modules. The planned fully vertically integrated facility is expected to grow the firm’s nameplate manufacturing capacity by 3.5GW to about 14GW in the USA and 25 GW globally in 2026.

To be completed and commissioned in first-half 2026 (contingent upon obtaining necessary permits and approvals), the new 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 expects 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.

“This decision is underpinned by robust fundamentals, including an order backlog of approximately 78GW, the industry’s strongest balance sheet, a repeatable vertically integrated manufacturing template, and a proven technology platform,” notes CEO Mark Widmar. “With this investment, we continue to help deliver on the promise of the Inflation Reduction Act, which is to create enduring value for our country,” he adds. “By expanding America’s solar manufacturing base, and the value chains that support it, we are working to ensure that the US enters the next decade in a position of strength, fully capable of producing the technology it needs to complete its transition to a sustainable energy future.”

Over the past year and including this announcement, First Solar has committed to over $2.8bn in capital investment and 7.9GW of additional manufacturing capacity in the USA. The firm had previously announced an approximately $1.3bn investment in a new 3.5GW manufacturing facility in Alabama and a 0.9GW expansion of its existing manufacturing footprint in Ohio, both of which are expected to be completed at the end of 2024. As the largest fully vertically integrated solar manufacturer in the Western Hemisphere, with 6.3GW of operational capacity in the USA, First Solar also previously announced an investment of up to $370m for a dedicated R&D innovation center in Perrysburg, Ohio, which is expected to be completed in 2024.

With more than 2500 staff across the USA, First Solar is already believed to be the largest employer in America’s solar manufacturing sector. The firm estimates that the new facility will add over 700 new jobs which, when combined with the 850 new manufacturing jobs expected to be created in Alabama and Ohio and over 100 new R&D jobs planned in Ohio, takes its total number of direct jobs in the USA to more than 4000 people across the country by 2026.

See related items:

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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