First Solar chooses Lawrence County for solar module plant

The $1.1 billion manufacturing facility will employ more than 700 when in operation

Workers at one of First Solar Inc.’s Ohio plants make photovoltaic solar modules. The company will be making those same modules in Lawrence County, bringing more than 700 jobs to Alabama.

First Solar Inc. has selected Lawrence County for its fourth American photovoltaic solar module manufacturing facility. The $1.1 billion factory is expected to be commissioned in 2025, and will employ more than 700 workers when in operation.

“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,” said Gov. Kay Ivey.

The planned factory for Mallard Fox Industrial Park is expected to have an annual capacity of 3.5 GWdc and will be fully vertically integrated, producing the company’s advanced thin film PV modules. The company also has three facilities in Ohio, including one that is scheduled to come online in 2023.

“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,” said Tabitha Pace, president and CEO of Lawrence County Industrial Development Board.

According to the company, the new facility is expected to advance a strategic push by the company to scale its U.S. manufacturing base in support of the effort to decarbonize the American economy and achieve self-sufficiency in renewable energy technologies.

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

The company is one of the world’s 10 largest solar manufacturers and is the only U.S.-headquartered company. Its latest investments in Alabama and an upgrade expanding its Northwest Ohio facility will bring its total investment in American manufacturing to more than $4 billion. The company also dedicated its research and development center in Perrysburg, Ohio in October.

“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.”

Once the Alabama and Ohio expansion is complete, First Solar will have more than 3,000 employees in four states. 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.

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