The planned factory in Lawrence County's Mallard Fox Industrial Park represents an investment of approximately $1.1 billion and is expected to be commissioned by 2025, with a planned annual capacity of 3.5 GWDC. The new fully vertically integrated facility will join three factories in Ohio, including one that is scheduled to come online in the first half of 2023, to form part of First Solar's expanded domestic manufacturing footprint.
"First Solar is a world-class manufacturer, and its solar modules are poised to play an increasingly important role in US energy self-sufficiency," said Governor of Alabama, Kay Ivey. "I'm thrilled to see the company's growth project headed to Lawrence County because I know it will create good jobs and have a major economic impact on this rural region."
The new facility is expected to advance a strategic push by the company to scale its US manufacturing base in support of the effort to decarbonize the American economy and achieve self-sufficiency in reliable and competitive renewable energy technologies.
"The passage of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 has firmly placed America on the path to a sustainable energy future," said Mark Widmar, chief executive officer, First Solar. "This facility, along with its sister factories in Ohio, will form part of the industrial foundation that helps ensure this transition is powered by American innovation and ingenuity."
Designed and developed at its research and development (R&D) centers in California and Ohio, First Solar's advanced thin film PV modules set industry benchmarks for quality, durability, reliability, design, and environmental performance.
Widmar added, "Our commitment to Responsible Solar includes operating facilities that are among the cleanest, safest, and most diverse in the country, and we're pleased to bring our model of responsible solar manufacturing to Alabama.
"We are proud of the role that this facility will play in creating stable, good-paying manufacturing jobs in the state, demonstrating the economic and social value that clean energy can deliver."
First Solar is unique among the world's ten largest solar manufacturers for being the only US-headquartered company and for not manufacturing in China, and its latest investment is expected to bring the company's total investment in American manufacturing to over $4 billion.
"As it works to develop the next generation of solar technologies, First Solar represents the kind of innovative, technology-forward company that can help power Alabama's economy into the future," said Greg Canfield, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.
"This investment supports sustainability and advances America's energy security — and it's great news for Alabama."
In addition to the new Alabama facility, the company previously announced that it is investing $185 million in upgrading and expanding its Northwest Ohio manufacturing footprint, currently the largest vertically-integrated complex of its kind in the Western Hemisphere, by 0.9 GWDC.
In October this year, First Solar also announced that it plans to invest approximately $270 million in a dedicated R&D innovation center in Perrysburg, Ohio. The new facility is believed to be the first of its scale in the United States and is expected to accelerate American leadership in the development and production of advanced thin film photovoltaics.
First Solar estimates that its new investments in Alabama and Ohio, now estimated at $1.3 billion, will add at least 850 new manufacturing and over 100 new R&D jobs, taking its total number of direct jobs in the US to over 3,000 people in four states by 2025, which is believed to make it the largest employer in the American solar manufacturing sector.
By 2025, First Solar is also expected to support an estimated 15,000 indirect and induced jobs as a result of its ongoing and future manufacturing operations.
Tabitha Pace, president and chief executive officer of the Lawrence County Industrial Development Board, said, "Our team, from the State down to the local level, has worked extremely hard to make this project a reality. First Solar will have a tremendous impact on our economy and region. We look forward to building those relationships for a successful future."
Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) president and chief executive officer, Jeff Lyash, said, "First Solar and TVA share a commitment to sustainability and innovation, as well as supporting our local communities. As the nation's largest solar panel manufacturer, First Solar is bringing hundreds of quality jobs to the region.
"We are proud of our partnership with Joe Wheeler Electric Membership Corp., the State of Alabama and other economic development agencies to help make North Alabama the region of choice for First Solar's newest location."