First Solar selects Alabama for 3.5GWdc module manufacturing factory

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A PV production plant from First Solar. Image: First Solar.

Thin-film manufacturer First Solar has confirmed that its fourth US factory will be opened in Lawrence County, Alabama. The factory has an expected manufacturing capacity of 3.5GWdc annually and will represent an investment of approximately US$1.1 billion.

Expected to be commissioned by 2025, the vertically integrated factory is part of First Solar’s expanding manufacturing and development footprint in the US. Its three factories in Ohio – one of which is due to become operational in early 2023 – are accompanied by R&D facilities in California and a recently commissioned centre in Ohio.

The Alabama facility was first announced in August, though the location wasn’t specified.

Mark Widmar, chief executive officer, First Solar said: “The passage of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 has firmly placed America on the path to a sustainable energy future. 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.”

First Solar said that this announcement will bring its total investment in US manufacturing to over US$4 billion. Since the Inflation Reduction Act passed, introducing tax credits for US-manufactured solar PV, the industry has been predicting a significant uptick in domestic manufacturing.

Recent months have seen First Solar announce two new projects – the Alabama manufacturing plant and the Ohio R&D centre – and a plan to upscale its Ohio manufacturing facilities by 0.9GW with US$185 million investment.

First Solar reported a US$68 million loss in Q3 of 2022, citing ongoing supply chain issues that have affected the deployment of US solar over recent months.

The company plans to open an Indian manufacturing facility next year and has signed a number of significant deals in recent months. Most recently, a 2GW US supply deal with Swift Current Energy and another 2GW deal with Arevon Energy.

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