First Solar Investing $1.2 Billion to Scale U.S. Capacity, Citing Passage of Climate Bill, Strong Demand
Solar technology company First Solar announced plans to invest up to $1.2 billion to significantly scale its PV solar module manufacturing capacity in the U.S., citing strong demand, and the recent passage of the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act.
The planned investments include approximately $1 billion to build a new factory – the company’s fourth – in the U.S. Southeast, with an annual capacity of 3.5 GWDC, anticipated to commence operations in 2025. First Solar will also invest $185 million to upgrade and expand its manufacturing footprint in Ohio, adding a further 0.9 GWDC of capacity.
The new investments are expected to boost First Solar’s PV module manufacturing capacity in the U.S. by approximately 75% to over 10 GWDC by 2025.
First Solar’s investment announcement follows the passage in Congress and signing by President Biden earlier this month of the Inflation Reduction Act, which includes the U.S.’ largest ever set of climate-focused investments, allocating nearly $370 billion to areas including renewable energy and industrial decarbonization solutions, including over $60 billion to accelerate domestic manufacturing of clean energy and transportation technologies through production and investment tax credits, loans and grants.
Mark Widmar, chief executive officer, First Solar, said:
“In passing the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, Congress and the Biden-Harris Administration has entrusted our industry with the responsibility of enabling America’s clean energy future and we must meet the moment in a manner that is both timely and sustainable.”
The climate bill formed part of a series of moves by the Biden administration to support the expansion of domestic renewable energy manufacturing capacity, including recently invoking the Defense Production Act – normally reserved for the needs of national defense – in order to accelerate domestic production of solar panel parts and other clean energy technologies.
In a statement welcoming the First Solar announcement, President Biden said:
“First Solar, the largest solar company in the United States is going to invest $1.2 billion in solar panels made here at home, creating clean energy jobs, hiring an American workforce, to help solve the climate crisis.”
The company noted that its new investments come as demand for its products build, citing a record bookings backlog at the end of its most recent quarter of over 44 GWDC.
“While we have made no decisions at this time, we continue to evaluate further investments in incremental capacity and could announce further expansion plans in the future.”