First Solar breaks ground on 3.3 GWdc production facility


First Solar broke ground August 17 on its third manufacturing facility in Ohio. The ceremony was attended by U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, among others.

The new 3.3 GWdc facility is scheduled to start operations in the first half of 2023 and represents a $680 million investment. When fully operational, the facility is expected to scale the company’s Northwest Ohio footprint to a total annual capacity of 6 GWdc.

The facility is forecast to create over 700 permanent jobs in addition to the over 1,600 people that First Solar currently employs in Ohio. Founded in 1999, First Solar has had a manufacturing presence in the state since it began commercial production at its original Perrysburg factory in 2002, when it produced 1.5 MWdc of modules and employed 150 people. Since then the company has invested over $2 billion in expanding its Ohio manufacturing presence, making the state home to one of the largest photovoltaic solar manufacturing footprints in the Western Hemisphere when it commissioned its second factory in 2019.

The new facility will enable First Solar to produce an anticipated average of one module roughly every 2.75 seconds across its three-factory Ohio footprint once it achieves its full production capacity. The facility will include machine-to-machine communication, artificial intelligence, and Internet of Things connectivity.

The 1.8 million-square-foot facility is expected to produce an enhanced thin film PV module for the utility-scale solar market in the U.S., and is anticipated to have a higher efficiency and wattage in a larger form factor.

The new facility will be built by Rudolph Libbe, Inc., and is expected to create 500 construction jobs over the next 18 months.

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