- First Solar plans to build a $1.1 billion photovoltaic solar module manufacturing facility in Alabama as it scales up production capacity to meet projected demand for renewables in the U.S., according to a press release last week.
- The Lawrence County, Alabama location will be First Solar's fourth factory in the country. The other three facilities, one of which was announced last year, are in Ohio.
- The Alabama facility, which is slated to begin operations in 2025, has a planned yearly capacity of 3.5 gigawatts direct current (GWdc) and is expected to create 700 jobs.
First Solar has been working to expand its U.S. solar capacity over the past few years. In June 2021, the company announced plans for a $680 million facility in Lake Township, Ohio. At the time, U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said the investment epitomized President Joe Biden's goal of building out domestic manufacturing and supply chains for critical industries.
First Solar later made further plans to expand in Ohio. In August, the company announced it would spend $185 million to upgrade and expand the company's Ohio manufacturing footprint by 0.9 GWdc.
Then in October, the company announced plans to invest approximately $270 million in a research and development innovation center in Perrysburg, Ohio. The investments, in addition to the $1.1 billion facility in Alabama, put the company on track the company to support more than 3,000 U.S. direct jobs and 15,000 indirect jobs by 2025.
The new facility announcements follow the signing of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 on Aug. 16, which includes an estimated $30 billion for production tax credits to companies that accelerate the manufacturing of solar panels, wind turbines, batteries, and critical minerals processing. The new law also includes a $10 billion investment tax credit to encourage companies to build manufacturing facilities such as solar panels.
The National Association of Manufacturers initially opposed the IRA, saying it'll increase taxes on manufacturers. But the law will help the U.S. solar market grow 40% through 2027, which would represent an additional 62 gigawatts of solar capacity, according to a report by the Solar Energy Industries Association and global research and consultancy Wood Mackenzie.
"When they passed and signed the Act into law, Congress and the Biden-Harris Administration effectively entrusted our industry with the responsibility of enabling America's clean energy future," First Solar CEO Mark Widmar said in a First Solar blog post in August. "With this long-term solar industrial policy in place, we're meeting the moment in a manner that is both timely and sustainable."