Demand for First Solar modules continues to be hot as Lightsource bp has signed on to purchase 4 GW of the U.S.-made thin-film modules. Delivery is expected to take place between 2026 and 2028. The order adds on to a 4.3 GW purchase made in 2021.
The deal includes both Series 6 Plus and Series 7 solar modules. The modules are designed and developed at First Solar’s research centers in Ohio and California.
“We are seizing the opportunity by not just growing our 20 GW development pipeline across the United States, but also creating sizeable demand for our U.S.-based partner First Solar, which, in turn, is investing in innovation and manufacturing, and supporting thousands of direct and indirect American jobs,” said Kevin Smith, chief executive officer, Lightsource bp.
As part of the supply agreement, Lightsource bp has also committed to using First Solar’s module recycling program. The company is a market leader in PV recycling, operating a program that provides closed-loop semiconductor recovery for use in new modules, while also recovering other materials including aluminum, glass, and laminates.
First Solar is also the first PV manufacturer to have its product included in the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) global registry for sustainable electronics.
“This is another sizeable commitment by Lightsource bp and a reflection of their trust in First Solar and our technology,” said Georges Antoun, chief commercial officer, First Solar. “Our relationship with Lightsource bp is a partnership in growth. We enable their growth with certainty through long-term pricing and supply commitments, and advanced technology, while they enable ours by providing the certainty of demand we need to invest in manufacturing.”
First Solar is expanding its manufacturing capacity across the U.S. to meet this demand. The company expects to bring a third factory in Ohio in the first half of 2023, and a fourth factory in Alabama is currently under construction and expected to come online in 2025. Both factories are planned to produce the Series 7 modules.
The module producer’s $1.1 billion Alabama factory and $185 million expansion of its existing facilities in Ohio are expected to bring its total investment in American manufacturing to over $4 billion. The company’s annual U.S. nameplate manufacturing capacity is forecast to expand to 10.6 GW by 2026. It expects to add at least 850 new manufacturing jobs and over 100 new R&D jobs, taking its total number of direct jobs in the US to over 3,000 people in four states by 2025.
The purchase by Lightsource bp came in just days after an announcement that Silicon Ranch, a Nashville-based independent power producer, has procured an additional 1.5 GW of First Solar modules. The deal expands upon the master supply agreement between the two solar businesses that includes a 4 GW transaction announced in April 2022 and, more recently, a 700 MW commitment announced in October 2022.
Over the last year, U.S. module supplier First Solar has procured additional multi-year orders from Intersect Power (7.3 GW), Arevon Energy (2 GW), Swift Current Energy (2 GW) and National Grid Renewables (1.6 GW) and Origis Energy (750 MW).
Last year, First Solar joined the S&P 500 Index of public companies, becoming the third clean energy systems manufacturer to join the index of large-cap companies. Fellow solar technology suppliers Enphase Energy and SolarEdge Technologies are also on the S&P 500 Index.
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