First Solar Inc. has broken ground on a previously announced manufacturing facility in Iberia Parish, La. – its fifth fully vertically integrated factory in the United States. Gov. John Bel Edwards and other state dignitaries attended the ceremony.
The facility, believed to be the largest capital investment in the area’s history, represents an investment of approximately $1.1 billion in expanding America’s capacity to produce photovoltaic solar panels. Expected to start commercial shipments by the first half of 2026, the plant is forecast to grow the company’s nameplate manufacturing capacity by 3.5 GW to reach approximately 14 GW in the U.S. and 25 GW globally in 2026.
When completed, the fully vertically integrated manufacturing facility will cover over two million square feet and is designed to transform a sheet of glass into a ready-to-ship Series 7 module in approximately 4.5 hours, producing over one dozen new Louisiana-made solar panels every minute.
“First Solar choosing our state for its newest solar panel production facility solidifies Louisiana’s place as a leader in the global energy transition,” says Edwards.
First Solar’s investment in Louisiana is expected to create over 700 new direct manufacturing jobs in the state. The company, already believed to be the largest employer in America’s solar manufacturing sector, with more than 2,500 employees across the country, expects to have over 4,000 direct employees in the U.S. by 2026.
“We are creating enduring value for the U.S. by building a robust solar manufacturing base and the value chains that enable it,” says Mark Widmar, CEO, First Solar. “This delivers jobs and economic value today and establishes the foundations needed for the country to enter the next decade with a secure supply of solar energy technology.”
Since 2020, First Solar has embarked on a $4.1 billion manufacturing expansion strategy that has seen it grow from approximately 6 GW of global nameplate capacity in 2020 to 13 GW operational today, with approximately 12 GW of nameplate capacity expected to come online in the U.S. and India between the second half of 2023 and 2026.
In addition to the Louisiana facility, First Solar commissioned its third Ohio factory earlier this year and is expected to complete its new facility in Alabama and the expansion of its existing Ohio footprint in 2024.
Rudolph Libbe Inc., will serve as the general contractor for the project and has already engaged with Lafayette-headquartered Lemoine to assist with early site work. The new facility is expected to create 500 construction jobs in Louisiana over the next 18 months.