Leeward Renewable Energy, First Solar come to terms on module supply agreement

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Leeward Renewable Energy and First Solar announced that the two companies have entered into a multi-year framework supply agreement, through which First Solar will provide Leeward with 1 GW of thin-film PV modules for use in Leeward’s 20 GW US solar development and construction pipeline through 2024.

The deal builds on existing module supply agreements between the two companies, bringing the total supply capacity to  over 3 GW of modules, which are estimated to enable the construction of 18 new solar facilities from 2022 to 2024. Like every other large-scale solar developer, Leewards has begun to feel the pressures of module supply uncertainties, pressures which have only been exacerbated with the Dept. of Commerce’s anticircumvention investigation on module imports.

“This agreement creates significant growth opportunities bringing stability, predictability and diminished risk from geopolitical tensions to our solar module supply chain, and by extension to our finance, construction, and offtake partners,” said Eran Mahrer, chief strategy officer at Leeward. “We look forward to working closely with First Solar and other US-based component manufacturers as we aggressively expand our solar portfolio.”

Many large-scale solar developers have had their existing supply agreement plans turned upside-down by the Department of Commerce’s anti-circumvention investigation. In a webinar last week, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) shared preliminary survey data from more than 200 respondents across the solar industry. Within the survey 75% of respondents reported that they are already experiencing cancelled or delayed module shipments, while 11% have not yet been notified of delays, but expect them to come.

Leeward is now the third company to announce a significant supply agreement with First Solar since news broke of the Dept. of Commerce’s investigation. On April 12, First Solar announced that it came to terms on a multi-year master supply agreement with Silicon Ranch, under which First Solar will supply 4 GW of modules to Silicon Ranch’s US projects from 2023 to 2025. That news came one day after Origis Energy placed an order for 750 MW of First Solar’s modules.

First Solar is investing $680 million in expanding America’s domestic solar manufacturing capacity by 3.3 GW annually, by building its third US manufacturing facility, in Lake Township, Ohio. The new facility is expected to be commissioned in the first half of 2023 and when fully operational will bring the company’s Northwest Ohio footprint to a total annual capacity of 6 GW.

In addition to its Ohio manufacturing facilities, First Solar also operates factories in Vietnam and Malaysia, and is building a new 3.3 GW factory in India that is expected to be commissioned in the second half of 2023. With First Solar’s expansion in the United States and India and optimization of its existing fleet, the First Solar anticipate that its manufacturing capacity will double to 16 GW by 2024.

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