First Solar breaks ground on $1.1 billion Louisiana manufacturing facility

First Solar has broken ground on its previously announced manufacturing facility in Iberia Parish, Louisiana, which will be its fifth fully vertically integrated factory in the US. The ceremony was attended by the Governor of Louisiana, John Bel Edwards, and other Louisiana dignitaries. 
First Solar breaks ground on $1.1 billion Louisiana manufacturing facility
Breaking ground in Louisiana. Courtesy of First Solar.

The facility is believed to be the largest capital investment in the area’s history, representing an investment of approximately $1.1 billion in the expansion of America’s solar panel production capacity.

The facility is expected to start commercial shipments by the first half of 2026 and is forecast to grow the company’s nameplate manufacturing capacity by 3.5 GW. This will enable First Solar to reach approximately 14 GW in the US and 25 GW globally in 2026. Upon completion, it will cover over two million square feet and will be able to transform a sheet of glass into a ready-to-ship Series 7 module in approximately 4.5 hours, producing over one dozen new Louisiana-made solar panels every minute.

“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” said Governor John Bel Edwards. “First Solar 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 investment in Louisiana is expected to create over 700 new direct manufacturing jobs in the state. The company, already believed to be the largest employer in America’s solar manufacturing sector, with more than 2,500 employees across the country, expects to have over 4,000 direct employees in the US by 2026.

“As America’s solar company, we are proud to welcome Louisiana to the largest solar manufacturing footprint in the Western Hemisphere” added Mark Widmar, chief executive officer, First Solar. “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.”

Since 2020, First Solar has embarked on a $4.1 billion manufacturing expansion strategy that has seen it grow from approximately 6 GW of global nameplate capacity to 13 GW operational currently, with approximately 12 GW of nameplate capacity expected to come online in the US and India between the second half of 2023 and 2026.

In addition to the Louisiana facility, First Solar commissioned its third Ohio factory earlier this year and is expected to complete its new facility in Alabama and the expansion of its existing Ohio footprint in 2024. The company also expects its new facility in India to begin commercial production in the fourth quarter of this year. Additionally, the company is investing up to $370 million in a dedicated R&D innovation centre in Perrysburg, Ohio, which is expected to be completed next year.

Rudolph Libbe, Inc., will serve as the general contractor for the project and has already engaged with Lafayette-headquartered LEMOINE to assist with early site work. The new facility is expected to create 500 construction jobs in Louisiana over the next 18 months.

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Tags: Solar , Jobs , India
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