An Ohio solar panel manufacturer is expanding with a new production facility in Northern Alabama. First Solar Inc. announced Wednesday, November 16 that it would spend $1.1 billion building a new solar panel manufacturing plant in Lawrence County of the state. The latest announcement follows previous announcements by First Solar that it would expand its R&D and manufacturing operations in Ohio.
The Alabama factory, First Solar’s fourth plant and its first outside of Ohio, is expected to employ about 700 people, produce 3.5 gigawatts DC of capacity per year, and come online by the middle of the decade.
In a statement, First Solar CEO gave credit to the infrastructure bill signed in August by President Biden, which included $369 billion in funding for energy security and climate change and said the new plant would be part of a wider U.S. transition to renewable energy.
“The passage of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 has firmly placed America on the path to a sustainable energy future,” he said, adding that the new factory, “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.”
The latest announcement is the largest and latest in First Solar’s domestic manufacturing buildout. In August, First Solar said it would spend $185 million expanding its production operations in Northwest Ohio, and in October it said it would spend $270 million on increasing its R&D operations in the same area. In total, First Solar says, the latest investments should bring the company’s total employment to about 3,000, which it says makes it a contender for largest employer in U.S. solar panel manufacturing.
Governor Kay Ivey, who recently won re-election in the Southern state, said in a statement she was “thrilled” the company would build in rural Lawrence County, about 25 miles west of Huntsville.
“First Solar is a world-class manufacturer, and its solar modules are poised to play an increasingly important role in U.S. energy self-sufficiency,” she said. “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.”