OMCO Solar opens US manufacturing facility, signs module backrail supply deal with First Solar

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OMCO Solar’s First Solar backrails at RE+ 2023. Image: OMCO Solar.

US solar equipment manufacturer OMCO Solar has opened its sixth manufacturing facility in the US, and will begin work on providing backrails for First Solar’s new Series 7 modules.

OMCO’s new facility is in the southern state of Alabama, and the company has invested US$10 million into the new manufacturing hub. The start of commercial production has increased the company’s production capacity to 10GW across its US facilities, and expansion of the US solar manufacturing sector will be vital to meet the country’s long-term clean energy goals.

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According to a report from BloombergNEF, the US plans to deploy 358GW of new solar capacity between 2023 and 2030. But the National Renewable Energy Laboratory said the US produced just 5GW of solar panels domestically in 2022. While the majority of these planned solar installations are still likely to come from China, the US is keen to reduce its reliance on solar components produced in China, and the construction and commissioning of new manufacturing facilities on US soil will be vital to this end.

“The First Solar agreement, and our newest facility in Alabama, demonstrate our commitment to bolster domestic manufacturing, create US jobs, and provide factory-direct solutions that solve the complexity of utility-scale solar projects,” said OMCO CEO Gary Schuster.

“Our legacy of using only domestically produced steel further underscores our dedication to driving growth at home, as well as our commitment to build domestic supply chains that support our nation’s energy security.”

The news is First Solar’s latest investment into manufacturing for its Series 7 modules, following its commitment of US$1.1 billion to a new module production facility in Texas. The company expects to produce 3.5GW of modules per year at the new facility, upon its opening in 2026, and the is the latest positive development in the US solar manufacturing sector.

OMCO announced the commissioning of the new facility, and its work with First Solar, at the RE+ conference in Las Vegas this week, at which the company is in attendance. This is not the first time First Solar has struck a supply deal during the event, with the company expanding a module supply deal with Longroad Energy earlier this week, as it looks to solidify its US-based supply chain.

“Ever since we made the strategic decision to build a domestic value chain in 2019, we have built a supply ecosystem that demonstrates that it is possible to manufacture a solar module in America, for America, with domestically sourced materials including glass and steel,” said Mike Koralewski, First Solar chief supply chain officer.

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