Cadmium-telluride thin-film photovoltaics leader First Solar will more than double the size of its production site in Perrysburg, Ohio. The 500,000-square-foot expansion plans include an additional manufacturing line, the reconfiguration of the existing pilot line, a new advanced research and development facility, and the hiring of at least 134 new employees. State and local government officials are working with First Solar on a package of incentives, which the company says are central to its expansion plans in the area.
When completed in the second quarter of 2010, the revamped original and new production lines will increase the site’s manufacturing capacity to 192 MWp, based on the company’s stated average annualized 48-MW capacity per line. A new structure will be built next to–and connected to–the existing factory to house the new line and “the reconfigured original line, [which will] be moved into that building, so it matches the other lines,” company spokeswoman Paula Vaughnn told PV-Tech. Once the new construction is completed, the total size of the Perrysburg facilities will be close to 930,000 square feet.
The move will bring the Perrysburg facility into the same, four-lines-per-factory configuration as First Solar’s other production sites in Germany and Malaysia. The additional output will also push the company’s projected 2010 worldwide capacity to 1.152 GWp, based on 24 operating lines.
“Scaling our manufacturing capacity while taking advantage of existing infrastructure will incrementally lower the manufacturing cost per watt at a rate comparable to our lowest cost facility in Malaysia,” explained Bruce Sohn, president of First Solar, in a statement. During the company’s most recent financial earnings conference call, chairman/CEO Michael Ahern said First’s cost per watt was $1.18 for the second quarter.
When asked about the proposed incentives package, Vaughnn said the company would not disclose any details at this time.
— Tom Cheyney