Business World of Renewable Energy

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Domestic Solar Market: First Solar Invests $680 Million in U.S. Production Expansion

Tempe, USA - U.S. solar company First Solar Inc. is investing heavily in photovoltaic production expansion and building a third manufacturing facility in the United States. The company is receiving tailwind for the investments from the policies of U.S. President Biden.

In the USA, the boom in the construction of new wind and solar plants is continuing. For example, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects PV capacity to increase by around 20,000 MW in 2021. The U.S. solar company plans to expand production capacity by 3.3 GW.

First Solar to build third PV manufacturing facility in the US - 3.3 GW annual capacity

First Solar announced today (09/06/2021) that it plans to invest US$680 million to expand its photovoltaic solar manufacturing capacity. The 3.3 GW (3,300 MW) annual solar capacity manufacturing facility at First Solar's Lake Township, Ohio site will be financed with existing cash on hand. Pending permitting and subject to various state, regional and local investment incentives, the new facility is expected to be operational in the first half of 2023.

Based on the company's module efficiency roadmap, full rated capacity is expected to be reached in 2025. Approximately 500 new jobs will be created. The new facility will also allow First Solar to produce a solar module on average about every 2.75 seconds at its three Ohio factories.

U.S. energy secretary: First Solar investments embody President Biden's strategy

“These investments in American-made solar technologies are the perfect embodiment of President Biden’s strategy to buildout domestic manufacturing and supply chains for critical industries", said U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer M. Granholm. First Solar is a great example of how investment and innovation can be built right in the U.S., strengthening American competitiveness and creating good-paying jobs to all pockets of the country, Granholm said.

Mark Widmar, First Solar's chief executive officer, added, "We have said that we stand ready to support President Biden’s goal to transition America to a clean, energy-secure future, and our decision to more than double our US manufacturing capacity with this new facility is First Solar making good on that commitment."

Thin-film photovoltaics - First Solar looks at further global production expansion

First Solar does not rely on silicon, but on thin-film photovoltaics, which are designed and developed at its research and development centers in California and Ohio. Each module features a cadmium telluride (CadTel) semiconductor layer that is only three percent the thickness of a human hair. First Solar is continually optimizing the amount of semiconductor material used by improving its vapor deposition process. The solar company also operates a recycling program that recovers more than 90 percent of the CadTel for use in new modules.

In addition to its Ohio manufacturing facilities, First Solar also operates factories in Vietnam and Malaysia. Due to strong demand for Series 6 solar modules, First Solar plans to review and evaluate additional capacity expansions both domestically and internationally.

Source: IWR Online, 10 Jun 2021