Made in the USA: First Solar selects Mesa, AZ, as site for second domestic PV manufacturing facility

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on email

First Solar has selected the location of its second manufacturing center in the United States, and it’s a short drive from the company’s Tempe, AZ, headquarters. A 135-acre site in Mesa that once hosted a General Motors vehicle testing facility will see the creation of a cadmium-telluride thin-film PV module factory, a $300 million capital investment which will feature four production lines and be suitable for future expansion. 

The company said that construction on the new plant will begin in the second quarter, with initial module shipments expected to start in the third quarter of 2012. Employment rolls will grow, with the hiring of 400-500 construction workers and another 600 positions at the factory itself.   

First Solar plans to install a 3MW rooftop PV system at the site as well as deploy an extensive ground-mounted testing facility. 

Although initially rated at more than 250MW capacity, that figure is based on First Solar’s annualized production line run rate from the fourth quarter of 2010—62.6MW.

The company’s run rate increased about 30% from 2008 to 2010; with a similar level of improvement, the Mesa plant’s capacity could exceed 80MW per line, for a total of >320MW, when all of the production capability comes online.

Further details on the timeline for construction, equipping, and ramp-up of the new factory have not yet been disclosed.

The Mesa site will join First Solar’s group of existing and future manufacturing centers in Perrysburg, OH, Germany, Malaysia, and Vietnam (with a proposed site in France on hold, pending an evaluation of market conditions there).  

Truck convoys transporting stacks of thin-film modules west from Mesa along the interstate to the Aqua Caliente PV power plant site will likely be a common sight by the time the factory’s first production runs begin next year and the construction on the NRG-owned, First Solar-built 290MW (AC) project in Yuma County, AZ, is well under way.   

In addition to Agua Caliente, the company has almost 170MW of projects under construction or set to begin construction in 2011 in the southwestern U.S. and Ontario, with another 1.65GW of projects in development (with signed power purchase agreements) in California and Nevada.

“Supportive state and federal policies have provided the visibility needed for the U.S. to become our fastest‐growing market, and the Mesa factory will enable us to meet that growing demand,” said Bruce Sohn, president of First Solar.

“Programs such as Department of Energy loan guarantees and the solar investment tax credit are crucial to helping the renewable energy industry quickly reach the scale needed to compete with fossil fuels. Over the long‐term, programs like these facilitate the market growth and investment that will support the future expansion of this factory,” he added.

“First Solar’s presence in Arizona has been a great engine in driving our renewable energy sector forward,” said Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer. “And now its plans for a 135‐acre technology campus—with 600 quality jobs and the potential for hundreds more—will propel Arizona into its second century, while promoting the Arizona Commerce Authority’s plan for business attraction, retention, and expansion. We are grateful that First Solar’s leadership has confidence in my Cornerstones of Reform –including the Arizona Competitiveness Package. “

Information about the extent of state and local incentives offered to First Solar has also not yet been disclosed.

1 December 2021
Join this virtual conference on 1-2 December 2021 for expert presentations covering PV Module Technology, Supply & Site Optimisation for Utility-Scale. Delegates can access streamed presentations, session recordings and chat/messaging tools to connect with fellow delegates and speakers. Speakers include leading developers, manufacturers, testing and research institutes, including: NREL, Silicon Ranch, Sonnedix, Heliene, Powertis, LONGi Solar, JinkoSolar, PVEL, Risen Energy, Seraphim, STS, Trina Solar, Eternalsun Spire, QEERI, Fraunhofer, Estuary Capital Partners, VDE, First Solar, Longroad Energy, Powertis and DNV Energy Systems
2 December 2021
Intersolar is the world’s leading exhibition & conference series for the solar industry. As part of this event series, Intersolar India in Mumbai is India’s most pioneering exhibition and conference for India’s solar industry. It takes place annually and has a focus on the areas of photovoltaics, PV production and solar thermal technologies. Since 2019, Intersolar India is held under the umbrella of The smarter E India – India’s innovation hub for the new energy world.
9 December 2021
The Smart Energy Council is hosting Australia’s second Virtual Smart Energy Conference and Exhibition on Thursday, 9 December 2021. This event will show that the industry powers on despite COVID-19 and we are standing together undeterred in spirit. Bringing our global community together using the latest technology.
13 January 2022
Intersolar North America and Energy Storage North America “Come Together” for the first time in Long Beach, CA—connecting installers, developers, utilities, technology providers, policy makers, and key stakeholders from around the world to advance the clean energy future. With best-in-class conference programming, integrated exhibits and pavilions, and the live Solar Games installer competition, #isnaesna21 will showcase the industry trends, innovative solutions, and emerging talent transforming the solar, energy storage, and e-mobility markets. Register today to redeem our exclusive offer for PV Tech readers—free expo hall or 20% off full conference pass.
1 February 2022
As Solar Finance & Investment enters its ninth year, we sit on the cusp of a new power market with solar at its heart. The 2022 edition of the event will build on our years of expertise and relationships to bring investors and lenders together with top developers. Connect with leaders in the field and use exclusive insights to drive investment and development decisions for the future. Meet new and existing project partners at the largest gathering of European solar investors and lenders.
23 February 2022
Held annually since 2016, the Energy Storage Summit Europe is the place to be for senior stakeholders in the European storage industry. Designed to accelerate deployment of storage, we examine evolving chemistries, business models, project design, revenue stacks and use cases for storage. The 2022 edition will include exclusive content around longer duration solutions, energy strategies for wide-scale deployment of EVs and "EnTech", the event which sits at the intersection of digitisation, decentralisation and decarbonation of the power system. Come to meet TSOs, DSOs, Utilities, Developers, Investors and Lenders and leave with new contacts, partners and a wealth of information.

Read Next

November 30, 2021
Solar EPC company iSun is investing in US commercial PV project developer Encore Renewable Energy as part of efforts to accelerate its geographic expansion.
November 30, 2021
The CEO of Hevel Group, Igor Shakhray, will leave the company to become CEO of Unigreen Energy, a silicon wafer and cell manufacturer, which is owned by Hevel majority shareholder Ream Management LLC
November 30, 2021
South Korean LG Electronics has announced a series of new appointments as it aims to target greater growth and customer satisfaction moving into 2022, while also elevating certain critical departments to division level in order to supply them with greater resources
November 30, 2021
Solar risk manager kWh Analytics has launched a new offering that it says allows PV project owners to receive upfront payments in return for maintaining asset performance.
November 30, 2021
‘Solar Module Super League’ (SMSL) member Canadian Solar has raised US$150 million through a share offering, with proceeds set to help the manufacturer expand its energy storage arm.
November 29, 2021
Commercial and industrial (C&I) solar developer Altus Power will offer distributed renewables and energy storage solutions through a new partnership with energy major Shell.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Solar Media Events
December 1, 2021
Solar Media Events
February 1, 2022
London, UK
Solar Media Events
February 23, 2022
London, UK
Solar Media Events
March 23, 2022
Austin, Texas, USA
Solar Media Events
March 29, 2022
Lisbon, Portugal