First Solar to set up 3.5GWdc module manufacturing facility in US Southeast

First Solar’s US module manufacturing capacity is expected to reach 10GWdc by 2025. Image: First Solar.

Thin-film solar manufacturer First Solar will invest up to US$1.2 billion to expand its manufacturing operations in the US, including setting up a vertically integrated factory in the country’s Southeast with an annual capacity of 3.5GWdc.

The US-headquartered company plans to invest up to US$1 billion in the new factory – its fourth in the country – which is expected to begin operations in 2025.

First Solar will also invest US$185 million in upgrading and expanding its manufacturing footprint in Ohio, where it has two operating facilities and is currently ramping up a third.

Mark Widmar, CEO at First Solar, said that in passing the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), Congress and the Biden-Harris Administration have “entrusted our industry with the responsibility of enabling America’s clean energy future and we must meet the moment in a manner that is both timely and sustainable”.

He added: “This investment is an important step towards achieving self-sufficiency in solar technology, which, in turn, supports America’s energy security ambitions, its deployment of solar at scale, and its ability to lead with innovation.”

Signed into law by President Joe Biden earlier this month, the IRA includes a US$0.07/Wdc manufacturing tax credit for solar modules. Other PV components eligible for manufacturing credits include cells, wafers, backsheets, polysilicon, inverters and trackers.

Recent weeks have seen a spike in US solar manufacturing announcements, with Meyer Burger securing a long-term deal to supply at least 3.75GW of US-made modules, SPI Energy revealing plans to begin producing wafers and REC Silicon saying its efforts to restart operations at its Moses Lake polysilicon production facility are underpinned by the IRA.

US-based tracker manufacturers, meanwhile, told PV Tech Premium they are planning to ramp up production in the country on the back of provisions included in the IRA.

Alongside constructing the new factory in the Southeast, First Solar will expand its two operating facilities in Perrysburg and Lake Township, Ohio, by 600MWdc to 3.6GWdc of annual Series 6 module capacity.

It will also expand its third Ohio factory, due to be commissioned in the first half of 2023, to 3.5GWdc of annual Series 7 module capacity.

The new investments are forecast to increase First Solar’s US module manufacturing capacity to more than 10GWdc by 2025.

The company also operates factories in Vietnam and Malaysia and is setting up a 3.3GWdc plant in India that is set to be commissioned in the second half of 2023.

On completion of its US and India expansion plans, First Solar expects to have more than 20GWdc of annual global manufacturing capacity in 2025.

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