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First Solar: Investing in America since 1999.

Founded in Ohio, First Solar has grown its manufacturing footprint in the United States from an initial $9.3 million investment in a 74,000 square-foot facility in Perrysburg that created 50 jobs in 1999, to an expected $4 billion in cumulative investment, 6.5 million square feet of manufacturing space, and over 3,000 direct jobs in four states by 2025.  

First Solar’s long history of investment in America spans an R&D center in California, three factories in Ohio - currently the largest solar manufacturing footprint in the Western Hemisphere - and a fourth planned in the Southeastern US, which is expected to result in the capacity to produce over 10 gigawatts (GW)DC of responsibly-produced advanced thin film photovoltaic (PV) solar panels annually for the United States by 2025.   

Its newest Ohio facility, which is scheduled to commence operations in the first half of 2023 and will eventually have an annual capacity of 3.5 GWDC by 2025. Located in Lake Township, Ohio, the facility will be one of the most advanced of its kind in the solar industry, combining highly skilled workers with Industry 4.0 architecture, machine-to-machine communication, artificial intelligence, and Internet of Things connectivity to produce a higher degree of automation, precision, and continuous improvement.  

First Solar is also investing in expanding the capacity of its two operational facilities in Perrysburg and Lake Township, Ohio, scaling their combined annual capacity to 3.6 GWDC by 2025. First Solar’s Perrysburg facility is its original manufacturing site and produced 1.5 megawatts of modules in its first year of commercial operations in 2002.    

In August 2022, First Solar also announced its intent to build its fourth domestic factory with an annual capacity of 3.5 GWDC, in the US Southeast. The company expects to invest up to $1 billion in the new factory. Contingent upon permitting and pending approval of various federal, state, regional, and local incentives, the new facility is expected to commence operations in 2025. 

A differentiated manufacturing process.

Using a thin film semiconductor rather than crystalline silicon, First Solar’s fully integrated, continuous process enables full quality control under one roof, converting a sheet of glass into a fully-functional solar panel in just 4.5 hours. In contrast, competitor technologies utilize three or four factories to process their raw materials into a fully functioning solar panel across several days. 

First Solar’s proven, highly-repeatable vertically integrated manufacturing template has allowed it to expand globally, establishing manufacturing sites in Malaysia and Vietnam, and it is building its first new manufacturing facility in India, all of which use the manufacturing process developed and advanced in Ohio.  

First Solar’s manufacturing process uses 98 percent less semiconductor material than traditional crystalline silicon solar panels and yields the lowest carbon footprint and fastest energy payback time in the industry. Every year, First Solar products displace more than 10 times the amount of greenhouse gas emitted through its global operations and supply chain. Learn more about First Solar’s manufacturing process.

Building a resilient, responsible supply chain.

First Solar’s vertically integrated manufacturing means its streamlined bill of materials can be transformed into PV modules in a single process, all under one roof. That makes its supply chain among the most traceable and transparent in the industry.

First Solar’s investment in American manufacturing has led to it sourcing the majority of the bill of materials for its Series 6 and 7 products from US suppliers, spurring investments in glass and steel production in Ohio, and tellurium processing in Utah.  These, in turn, are supported by supplementary supply chains – for instance, the glass produced by NSG Pilkington in Ohio uses sand mined in Michigan and soda ash from Wyoming.  

First Solar’s work to develop its US supply chain has delivered results, allowing it to achieve up to 90% domestically-produced content for its next generation Series 7 module, which will utilize American-made glass and steel, among other components. 

Furthermore, First Solar’s manufacturing operations and supply chains are governed by its commitment to Responsible Solar. Its Ohio manufacturing facilities were recently awarded the Platinum rating by the Responsible Business Alliance in their intensive Validated Assessment Program (VAP) operations audit. The full scope of the VAP includes fair labor practices and human rights, health and safety measures, environmental performance, business integrity, ethics, and supporting management systems. The audit’s standards extend to the vetting of First Solar’s suppliers as well. Learn more about the RBA audit.

 

Leading the industry with responsible recycling technology.

First Solar’s state-of-the-art recycling processing centers in Ohio are co-located with its manufacturing facilities. It currently operates 182 MW of annual recycling capacity, which is set to double to 364 MW in 2023. Its proven recycling process achieves high reuse rates of more than 90 percent of glass and allows for closed-loop semiconductor recovery for use in new modules. Learn more about First Solar’s recycling program.

First Solar Manufacturing by the Numbers

>10 GW DC Total US annual capacity
expected by 2025

1.6 secondsRate at which First Solar will produce an
American-made solar module by 2025

>3,000Expected number of direct employees
in 4 states by 2025

79Approximate number of components
to make each module

29Approximate number of suppliers
that support manufacturing operations

90%The amount of semiconductor material and glass
that is recovered in First Solar recycling

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