- First Solar has announced a new fab with 3.5 GW DC capacity to be built in Southeast US
- It is planned to be built with $1 billion investment as the company’s 4th vertically integrated fab in the US
- The new fab along with planned upgrades and expansion worth $185 billion will take the company’s annual manufacturing capacity to 10.5 GW DC by 2025
- Management continues to evaluate further investments in incremental capacity and could announce further expansion plans in the future
- Cowen analysts believe it may consider reopening its Frankfurt fab that was shut down in 2012, or look for a greenfield facility in Europe
- There could be an announcement for a new US fab for First Solar and SunPower tandem module
US based CdTe solar PV module manufacturer First Solar will build a new manufacturing facility in the country with 3.5 GW DC annual capacity after the US government made it certain it will support such efforts with financial and regulatory incentives through the $369 billion Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) (see Inflation Reduction Act 2022 Now A Law).
It will be the company’s 4th fully vertically integrated fab, located in the Southeast US, however, the exact location wasn’t revealed. The $1 billion fab is planned to come online in 2025 post requisite approvals at federal, state, regional levels along with incentives.
“First Solar estimates that the new investment will add at least 850 new manufacturing 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,” stated the management.
The company already operates 2 manufacturing fabs in Ohio’s Perrysburg and Lake Township with 3.0 GW DC combined capacity. It plans to invest $185 million to expand their annual Series 6 capacity by 600 MW DC to 3.6 GW DC. In June 2021, it announced a new fab with 3.3 GW DC annual capacity, also in Ohio, whose capacity will be expanded by 200 MW DC to 3.5 GW DC to produce Series 7 modules. This one is scheduled to come online in H1/2023.
These expansions will increase First Solar’ total invest in its Ohio manufacturing facilities to over $3 billion with a cumulative annual production capacity of over 7 GW DC by 2025.
Add 3.5 GW DC capacity from the 4th fab, First Solar will have 10.5 GW DC annual manufacturing capacity by 2025.
Referring to its bookings backlog of 44.3 GW DC as on July 28, 2022, First Solar CEO Mark Widmar also added, “While we have made no decisions at this time, we continue to evaluate further investments in incremental capacity and could announce further expansion plans in the future. Any such decision would be developed on a solid foundation of strong demand, a repeatable vertically integrated manufacturing template, a proven technology platform, and a robust balance sheet.”
In its Q2/2022 results, released end of July, the US manufacturer had already said it may consider home turf to build another fab provided incentives were promised by the government (see First Solar’s Q2/2022 Financial Results).
Equity Research Analysts from Cowen believe First Solar may come out with 2 more factory announcements in the ‘coming weeks and months’. It could relate to a domestic location for First Solar and SunPower’s tandem module, and another may be a restart of the company’s Frankfurt (Oder) facility in Brandenburg, Eastern Germany which was closed in 2012, or may be a greenfield facility in Europe.