First Solar to invest US$270 million in Ohio R&D centre

The 1.3 million square foot First Solar R&D facility will be located near First Solar’s existing Perrysburg manufacturing facility. image: First Solar

First Solar plans to investUS$270 million in a new research and development (R&D) facility in Perrysburg, Ohio as it continues its global PV manufacturing expansions.

The 1.3 million square foot facility will be located near First Solar’s existing Perrysburg manufacturing facility, which currently handles both a manufacturing line and product development operations. The new R&D facility will take over product development at its location with the intention of making both departments more efficient.

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In July, before the passing of the Inflation Reduction Act, First Solar said it would consider expanding its US manufacturing base if key tax incentives were put in place, at which point it would “pivot quickly to reevaluate US manufacturing expansion”.

“With a record shipment backlog and consistent demand for our modules, we face the twin challenges of optimising existing and planned production capacity to deliver on our commitments, while ensuring that our technology roadmap does not lose momentum,” said Mark Widmar, CEO of First Solar.

Just this week, the company has sold 4GW of its thin film PV modules in two deals with Swift Current Energy and renewables asset manager Arevon.

Having already invested over US$1.5 billion in R&D and US$1.2 billion in upscaling its manufacturing capabilities the company hopes that the new facility “will directly enable the next generation of advanced photovoltaics”, Markus Gloeckler, chief technology officer at First Solar said.

The company is also currently building its first manufacturing facility in India, scheduled to begin operations next year, in addition to its facilities in the US, Vietnam and Malaysia. Once all its current projects are complete, First Solar expects a global annual manufacturing capacity of over 20GW in 2025, with more than 10GW of this made in the US.

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