First Solar announced plans to build a new solar module manufacturing facility near its existing Perrysburg, Ohio, flagship plant. The 1.2-GW factory is expected to create 500 new jobs in northwestern Ohio, and will produce the company’s advanced technology Series 6 thin-film PV module.
The expansion plan calls for a 1 million-sq-ft facility located in Lake Township, Ohio, a short distance from First Solar’s Perrysburg site, with construction expected to begin in mid-2018 and entering full production mode in late 2019 with an expected annualized capacity of 1.2 GW. The plan is contingent on confirmation of state and local incentive packages currently in negotiation.
Rudolph Libbe Inc., of the Rudolph Libbe Group, will serve as design/build contractor for the new facility.
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 PV solar modules will total 1.8 GW. First Solar is the nation’s largest manufacturer of PV modules.
“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,” said Mike Koralewski, First Solar’s 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 the capital investment for the expansion will be approximately $400 million, with a workforce of approximately 500 associates and an annual payroll of approximately $30 million. He also indicated First Solar has options for potential further manufacturing expansion in the future, depending on sustained U.S. demand for advanced solar technology.
“Expanding our U.S. 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.”
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 re-started an idled Series 4 production line to meet continued demand for that product.
Through Rudolph Libbe Group’s SiteLine services, Rudolph Libbe Properties supported First Solar with selection of the approximately 110-acre site.
“For 16 years, First Solar has been a great employer and a key member of our local business community,” said Rudolph Libbe President Tim Alter. “GEM Inc. and Rudolph Libbe Inc. have been honored to have a long relationship with them, starting with the construction of their first manufacturing facility. We’re very pleased and proud to build for First Solar again as they continue to grow and bring jobs to our community.”
Since its inception, First Solar has invested approximately $3 billion in Ohio, including wages paid, manufacturing purchases, research & development costs and taxes. The flagship Perrysburg plant is the largest solar manufacturing facility in the United States, working with more than 250 U.S. suppliers and indirectly supporting more than 4,000 jobs across Ohio. First Solar was formed in 1999, and established its first manufacturing facility in Perrysburg. Full-scale commercial production of thin film photovoltaic solar modules began in 2002. With production facilities in the U.S., Malaysia and Vietnam, First Solar has sold more than 17 GW of solar modules providing clean, renewable energy worldwide.
News item from First Solar