First Solar is the latest solar manufacturer to announce that it will increase manufacturing in the US. The US based company announced that it will open a new facility in Ohio where it plans to produce 1.2 gigawatts of solar panels annually, bringing its total US production up to 1.8 GWs of solar panels a year.
The company said the new, 1-million square foot factory will be in Lake Township, Ohio near its existing factory in Perrysburg. Once completed and at full operational capacity by late 2019 capacity it’s expected to employ up to 500 people and will pay roughly $30 million in annual salaries. The new facility will produce its Series 6 thin film photovoltaic (PV) solar panels. It’s currently producing 600MWs of panels at Perrysburg.
“Expanding our US manufacturing is particularly exciting,” said Tymen de Jong, First Solar’s Chief Operating Officer. “We originated in Ohio, and we’re proud to build on that history as we grow into the future.”
With the current plant’s Series 6 manufacturing capacity of 600MW and the announced expansion, First Solar’s annualized U.S. manufacturing capacity for thin film PV solar modules will total 1.8 GWs. First Solar is the nation’s largest manufacturer of PV modules.
Last year the company invested $175 million to retool the Perrysburg plant to produce its new Series 6 product. It also re-started an idled Series 4 production line to meet continued demand for that product.
The news follows news last week that SunPower is purchasing SolarWorld Americas and will produce its P-Series solar panels at the SolarWorld facility in Oregon. That move will help SunPower avoid tariffs on imported solar materials imposed by the Trump Administration.
First Solar, which uses a different technology in its thin-film solar panels, isn’t impacted by the tariffs. But the company attributed the expansion to other factors.
“Strong demand in the U.S. for advanced solar technology, along with recent changes in US corporate tax policies, have encouraged our decision to grow First Solar’s U.S. production operations,” said Mike Koralewski, First Solar senior vice president of Global Manufacturing.
“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 U.S. operations an attractive, win-win opportunity.” Koralewski said. He also noted First Solar could expand its US manufacturing in the future, depending on sustained domestic demand.
Plans for the newly expanded line are still contingent on incentive packages that are being negotiated.Tweet