First Solar plans expansion with $400m manufacturing plant in US


First Solar has unveiled plans to build a new solar module manufacturing facility near its Perrysburg, Ohio, flagship plant.

The 1.2GW factory, which is expected to create 500 new jobs in northwestern Ohio, will produce the company’s advanced technology Series 6 thin film photovoltaic (PV) module.

Under the expansion plan, a one million ft² facility will be established in Lake Township, Ohio, a short distance from First Solar’s Perrysburg site.

Construction is expected to begin in mid-2018 and full production in late 2019 with an expected annualised capacity of 1.2GW.

The current plant has a Series 6 manufacturing capacity of 600MW and with the setting up of the new plant, First Solar’s annualised US manufacturing capacity for thin film PV solar modules will increase to 1.8GW.

First Solar senior vice president of global manufacturing Mike Koralewski said: “Strong demand in the US for advanced solar technology, along with recent changes in US corporate tax policies, have encouraged our decision to grow First Solar’s US production operations.

“State and local officials and Jobs Ohio have also worked with us to create a business-friendly environment that supported our objectives.

“These factors, combined with our own economies of scale in high-tech manufacturing, make expanding US operations an attractive, win-win opportunity.”

According to Koralewski, the capital investment for the expansion will be $400m, with a workforce of approximately 500 associates.

He said the company would consider further manufacturing expansion in the future, depending on sustained US demand for advanced solar technology.

First Solar COO Tymen de Jong said: “Expanding our US manufacturing is particularly exciting. We originated in Ohio, and we’re proud to build on that history as we grow into the future.”

The company had invested $175m into retooling the original Perrysburg plant for production of its new Series 6 product in 2017.

In April 2018, the company re-started an idled Series 4 production line at the facility to meet continued demand for that product.

First Solar has production facilities in the US, Malaysia and Vietnam.

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