First Solar Inc. has announced plans to build a new solar module manufacturing facility near its existing Perrysburg, Ohio, plant.
The factory, totaling 1 million square feet, is expected to create 500 new jobs in northwestern Ohio and will produce the company’s Series 6 thin-film photovoltaic modules with an expected annualized capacity of 1.2 GW.
The expansion plan calls for a facility located in Lake Township, Ohio, a short distance from First Solar’s Perrysburg site. The facility is expected to enter construction in mid-2018 and begin full production in late 2019. The plan is contingent on the confirmation of state and local incentive packages currently in negotiation, notes First Solar.
With the current plant’s Series 6 manufacturing capacity of 600 MW and the announced expansion, First Solar’s annualized U.S. manufacturing capacity for thin-film solar PV modules will triple to 1.8 GW.
“Strong demand in the U.S. for advanced solar technology, along with recent changes in U.S. corporate tax policies, have encouraged our decision to grow First Solar’s U.S. production operations,” comments Mike Koralewski, First Solar’s senior vice president of global manufacturing. “State and local officials and JobsOhio 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 U.S. operations an attractive, win-win opportunity.”
Koralewski says the capital investment for the expansion will be approximately $400 million and will include a workforce of 500 associates and an annual payroll of approximately $30 million. He also indicates that First Solar has options for potential further expansions, depending on sustained U.S. demand for advanced solar technology.
In 2017, the company invested $175 million into retooling the original Perrysburg plant for production of its new Series 6 product. This April, the facility restarted an idled Series 4 production line to meet continued demand for that product.
Since its inception, First Solar says it has invested approximately $3 billion in Ohio, including wages paid, manufacturing purchases, research and development costs, and taxes. According to the company, the Perrysburg plant is the largest solar manufacturing facility in the U.S.; it works with more than 250 U.S. suppliers and indirectly supports more than 4,000 jobs across Ohio.