Longroad and First Solar expand module supply deal by 2GW

First Solar’s Series 7 modules at RE+ 2023. Image: Jonathan Tourino Jacobo via PV Tech

US renewables developer Longroad Energy has extended a module supply agreement with US solar manufacturer First Solar, and now expects to acquire an additional 2GW of First Solar modules.

The deal builds on a 3.7GW supply deal already in place between the companies, and will bring Longroad’s total acquisitions of First Solar modules up to around 8GW since 2017. First Solar expects to deliver the modules to Longroad between 2027 and 2029.

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“Longroad Energy and First Solar share a longstanding partnership that’s based on shared values and a common vision for a sustainable energy future,” said Michael Alvarez, Longroad co-founder and chief operating officer.

Longroad has started construction on several US solar projects using First Solar’s Series 6 modules in the last twelve months, including facilities in the states of Maine and Texas, as it looks to expand its portfolio.

While First Solar did not specify which of its modules it would supply to Longroad as part of the latest deal, these arrangements have formed a key part of the company’s plan to significantly increase its manufacturing capacity, from an annual production capacity of 6GW in 2020 to 13GW today. The company has already announced plans to build a new US$1.1 billion manufacturing facility in the US state of Louisiana, as it looks to expand its total production capacity to 25GW by the end of 2026.

First Solar’s continued expansion comes at a time of heightened interest in domestically-produced solar modules in the US, with legislation such as the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and Uyghur Forced Labour Prevention Act (UFLPA) simultaneously encouraging US manufacturing and discouraging a reliance on modules imported from areas thought to be associated with forced labour practices, most notably China.

However, this is not to say that other countries and companies are above criticism. Earlier this year, First Solar itself announced the discovery of “unethical recruitment” practices at its manufacturing facility in Malaysia, and in the months since has drawn attention to what it calls “responsibly produced” clean power projects, as the solar sector as a whole looks to improve its ethical performance.

“By expanding our procurement of First Solar’s advanced thin film technology, we are extending our commitment to responsibly produced renewable energy technologies and to American solar manufacturing and domestic value chains,” added Alvarez.

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