First Solar Plans $1.1B Solar Module Manufacturing Facility in Northern Alabama

by Katie Sloan

DECATUR, ALA. — First Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR) has announced plans to develop a $1.1 billion solar module manufacturing facility within Mallard Fox Industrial Park in Decatur, located near the Tennessee River southwest of Huntsville. 

The factory will contribute 3.5 gigawatts (GWDC) of renewable power each year and create over 700 new jobs for the state of Alabama upon its completion in 2025, according to the developer. First Solar hopes to expand its American manufacturing footprint to over 10 GWDC and a total investment of $4 billion in the coming years. 

The company currently has two factories operating in the state of Ohio with a third scheduled for completion during the first half of 2023, and several research and development (R&D) centers in California and Ohio. 

First Solar recently said it would expand its operations in the United States following passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which provides tax credits for domestically produced clean energy equipment.

“The passage of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 has firmly placed America on the path to a sustainable energy future,” says Mark Widmar, CEO of First Solar. “Our Alabama 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.”

First Solar announced plans to invest $185 million in upgrading its Ohio manufacturing facilities earlier this year, alongside plans to develop a $270 million dedicated R&D innovation center in Perrysburg, Ohio. 

The company’s new innovation center will be the first of its scale in the U.S., according to First Solar, and is expected to accelerate American leadership in the development and production of advanced thin film photovoltaics. 

Thin film solar technology can be used in a variety of ways, including solar shingles, solar roof tiles, solar windows and solar glass. The goal for all applications is to provide the means to keep aesthetics for homes and buildings intact while allowing for solar power generation, according to Solar Magazine. 

Tempe, Ariz.-based First Solar is the only company headquartered in the U.S. of the world’s 10 largest solar manufacturers. The firm is expected to support an estimated 15,000 jobs by 2025.

FSLR stock closed at $158.58 per share on Wednesday, Nov. 16, up from $108.37 one year ago.

Katie Sloan

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