First Solar kicks off construction on $1.1bn solar panel factory in Iberia Parish, Louisiana

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First Solar, Inc. (Nasdaq: FSLR) initiated construction of its fifth vertically integrated manufacturing plant in Iberia Parish, Louisiana. The $1.1 billion facility is positioned to be a game-changer for US photovoltaic (PV) solar panels production.

Significance of the Iberia Parish Facility for US Solar Production

This Iberia Parish establishment, touted to be the area’s most substantial capital investment, is anticipated to kickstart commercial shipments by the first half of 2026. Consequently, this move will escalate First Solar’s nameplate manufacturing capacity by 3.5 gigawatts (GW) — culminating in around 14 GW in the US and 25 GW globally by 2026.

Spanning over two million square feet, the state-of-the-art facility aims to convert a glass sheet into a ready-to-ship Series 7 module in merely 4.5 hours. This rapid production means the plant will be rolling out Louisiana-made solar panels at a rate of over twelve per minute.

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“This is a historic day for Iberia Parish and Louisiana as we celebrate this record-breaking investment and the hundreds of good-paying jobs it will create,” expressed Governor John Bel Edwards. He further added, “First Solar choosing our state for its newest solar panel production facility solidifies Louisiana’s place as a leader in the global energy transition.”

First Solar begins construction on $1.1bn PV solar panel factory in Iberia Parish, Louisiana

First Solar begins construction on $1.1bn PV solar panel factory in Iberia Parish, Louisiana. Photo courtesy of Business Wire.

First Solar’s Broader Vision and Job Creation in the US

Besides the boost to solar capacity, First Solar’s Louisiana venture is set to generate over 700 direct manufacturing positions. This, combined with its existing workforce, propels the company’s ambition to employ more than 4,000 US residents by 2026.

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Mark Widmar, First Solar’s CEO, conveyed, “As America’s solar company, we are proud to welcome Louisiana to the largest solar manufacturing footprint in the Western Hemisphere. We are creating enduring value for the US by building a robust solar manufacturing base and the value chains that enable it.”

First Solar’s Decade-Long Manufacturing Expansion Strategy

In the past few years, First Solar has plunged into a $4.1 billion manufacturing expansion, elevating from roughly 6 GW of global nameplate capacity in 2020 to 13 GW currently. Besides the Louisiana facility, the company recently commissioned its third Ohio factory and anticipates wrapping up its new Alabama establishment and Ohio’s expansion by 2024. Moreover, their new facility in India is predicted to commence commercial production later this year. On the innovation front, First Solar is allocating up to $370 million towards an R&D center in Perrysburg, Ohio, projected to complete next year.

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For the Louisiana project, Rudolph Libbe, Inc. has been assigned as the general contractor, partnering with Lafayette-based LEMOINE for preliminary site tasks. The upcoming facility is set to offer 500 construction roles in Louisiana within the coming 18 months.

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