First Solar to grow US production with 3.3-GW module factory in Ohio

US thin-film photovoltaics (PV) maker First Solar Inc will spend USD 680 million (EUR 558.9m) to build a 3.3-GW DC solar module factory in Ohio, its third one in the US, and is also assessing options for further expansions globally.

Apart from the US, First Solar also has production facilities in Vietnam and Malaysia. At the new base, it will produce an enhanced thin-film PV module for the utility-scale solar market in the US, offering “the highest efficiency and wattage, and the lowest cost per watt,” the company said on Wednesday.

The factory, to be located adjacent to First Solar’s second Ohio manufacturing facility, will span an area of 1.8 million sq ft (200,000 sq m) in Lake Township, Stark County, and is set to become operational in the first half of 2023. According to the plan, it will reach a production capacity of 3 GW DC annually by the end of 2023, while the full nameplate capacity is scheduled to be achieved two years later.

The Rudolph Libbe Group said separately it has been selected as the design/build contractor for the project. Construction works are slated to begin this summer, opening more than 500 jobs.

The manufacturer will use cash on hand for the construction of the new facility. It noted it is still awaiting permission and approval for state and regional incentives.

Once the new factory is fully operational, First Solar will have 6 GW DC of annual manufacturing capacity in Northwest Ohio, enabling it to produce an average of one module roughly every 2.75 seconds across its three-factory complex in Ohio.

First Solar added it is meanwhile estimating the potential for future capacity expansions to meet rising demand for Series 6 modules.

“While we have made no such decisions at this time, we are continuing to evaluate the potential for further domestic and international expansion,” said CEO Mark Widmar.