First Solar selected Lawrence County, North Alabama, as the location for its fourth U.S. photovoltaic (PV) solar module manufacturing facility. The new factory is part of a previously announced investment in scaling First Solar’s American manufacturing footprint to over 10 gigawatts GWdc by 2025, and is expected to create over 700 new direct jobs in the state.
The planned factory in Lawrence County’s Mallard Fox Industrial Park represents an investment of approximately $1.1 billion and is expected to be commissioned by 2025, with a planned annual capacity of 3.5 GWDC. The new fully vertically integrated facility will join three factories in Ohio, including one that is scheduled to come online in the first half of 2023, to form part of First Solar’s expanded domestic manufacturing footprint.
“First Solar is a world-class manufacturer, and its solar modules are poised to play an increasingly important role in US energy self-sufficiency,” said Governor of Alabama, Kay Ivey. “I’m thrilled to see the company’s growth project headed to Lawrence County because I know it will create good jobs and have a major economic impact on this rural region.”
The new facility is expected to advance a strategic push by the company to scale its US manufacturing base in support of the effort to decarbonize the American economy and achieve self-sufficiency in reliable and competitive renewable energy technologies.
“The passage of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 has firmly placed America on the path to a sustainable energy future,” said Mark Widmar, chief executive officer, First Solar. “This facility, along with its sister factories in Ohio, will form part of the industrial foundation that helps ensure this transition is powered by American innovation and ingenuity.”
Designed and developed at its research and development (R&D) centers in California and Ohio, First Solar’s advanced thin film PV modules set industry benchmarks for quality, durability, reliability, design, and environmental performance.
First Solar keeps on investing
In addition to the new Alabama facility, the company previously announced that it is investing $185 million in upgrading and expanding its Northwest Ohio manufacturing footprint, currently the largest vertically-integrated complex of its kind in the Western Hemisphere, by 0.9 GWDC. In October this year, First Solar also announced that it plans to invest approximately $270 million in a dedicated R&D innovation center in Perrysburg, Ohio. The new facility is believed to be the first of its scale in the United States and is expected to accelerate American leadership in the development and production of advanced thin film photovoltaics.
First Solar estimates that its new investments in Alabama and Ohio, now estimated at $1.3 billion, will add at least 850 new manufacturing and over 100 new R&D jobs, taking its total number of direct jobs in the US to over 3,000 people in four states by 2025, which is believed to make it the largest employer in the American solar manufacturing sector. By 2025, First Solar is also expected to support an estimated 15,000 indirect and induced jobs as a result of its ongoing and future manufacturing operations.
Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) president and chief executive officer, Jeff Lyash, said, “First Solar and TVA share a commitment to sustainability and innovation, as well as supporting our local communities. As the nation’s largest solar panel manufacturer, First Solar is bringing hundreds of quality jobs to the region. We are proud of our partnership with Joe Wheeler Electric Membership Corp., the State of Alabama and other economic development agencies to help make North Alabama the region of choice for First Solar’s newest location.”
— Solar Builder magazine