First Solar, Inc. (Nasdaq: FSLR), a prominent leader in solar energy solutions, celebrated a momentous occasion today as it officially broke ground on its highly anticipated manufacturing facility in Iberia Parish, Louisiana. The groundbreaking ceremony was graced by the presence of Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards and esteemed dignitaries from the state, marking a significant milestone in the company’s mission to bolster America’s photovoltaic (PV) solar panel production capabilities.
This colossal endeavor represents a remarkable $1.1 billion investment, making it the most substantial capital infusion in the region’s history. The factory, First Solar’s fifth fully vertically integrated facility in the United States, is poised to play a pivotal role in expanding the nation’s capacity to manufacture solar panels. With commercial shipments slated to commence by the first half of 2026, the facility is projected to augment the company’s nameplate manufacturing capacity by 3.5 gigawatts (GW), propelling it to an approximate 14 GW capacity in the United States and 25 GW worldwide by 2026.
Upon completion, the fully vertically integrated manufacturing facility will span an impressive two million square feet. Designed with cutting-edge technology, it has the capability to transform a sheet of glass into a ready-to-ship Series 7 module in just 4.5 hours, churning out over a dozen new, Louisiana-made solar panels every minute.
Governor John Bel Edwards expressed his enthusiasm, stating, “This is a historic day for Iberia Parish and Louisiana as we celebrate this record-breaking investment and the hundreds of good-paying jobs it will create. First Solar’s choosing our state for its newest solar panel production facility solidifies Louisiana’s place as a leader in the global energy transition. Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to make this day happen, and we are all proud to welcome First Solar to Louisiana.”
First Solar’s commitment to Louisiana is expected to result in the creation of more than 700 new direct manufacturing jobs in the state. Already established as the largest employer in America’s solar manufacturing sector, boasting a workforce of over 2,500 employees nationwide, the company envisions having over 4,000 direct employees in the United States by 2026.
Mark Widmar, CEO of First Solar, proudly stated, “As America’s solar company, we are proud to welcome Louisiana to the largest solar manufacturing footprint in the Western Hemisphere. This facility, like its sister facilities in Ohio and Alabama, represents First Solar’s investment in our country’s future. We are creating enduring value for the US by building a robust solar manufacturing base and the value chains that enable it. 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.”
In a strategic move that aligns with its vision for the future, First Solar embarked on a $4.1 billion manufacturing expansion strategy at the start of the decade. This initiative has seen the company catapult from an approximate 6 GW of global nameplate capacity in 2020 to an impressive 13 GW operational capacity today. Furthermore, approximately 12 GW of nameplate capacity is expected to come online in the US and India between the second half of 2023 and 2026.
In addition to the groundbreaking in Louisiana, First Solar recently commissioned its third Ohio factory earlier this year and anticipates the completion of its new facility in Alabama as well as the expansion of its existing Ohio footprint in 2024. The company also expects its new facility in India to commence commercial production in the fourth quarter of this year. As part of its forward-looking approach, the company is making a substantial investment of up to $370 million in a dedicated R&D innovation center in Perrysburg, Ohio, which is slated for completion next year.