September 26, 2022

Taylor Daily Press

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FILE PHOTO: First Solar manufacturing plant in Perrysburg

First Solar is promising major factory expansion in the US thanks to climate legislation

It was one of the first major corporate investments announced since the Inflationary Reduction Act (IRA), a $430 billion package of climate change mitigation policies that President Joe Biden signed into law this month. The IRA includes new tax incentives for US-made solar products.

It’s a turnaround for the largest U.S. solar panel maker, which said earlier this summer it was unlikely to build its next plant in the U.S. due to a lack of federal support.

Now, First Solar has said it will invest $1 billion in a new plant in the Southeast that will begin operations in 2025. The company plans to choose a location later this year.

It will spend $185 million to expand production in Ohio, where it has two plants and makes a third.

The expansions are expected to create 850 jobs and bring the company’s total number of employees in the United States to 3,000.

“We believe we have a consistent industry policy with the IRA that we’ve been advocating for a long time that is fundamentally comprehensive and will enable the entire solar industry,” Chief Executive Mark Whitmer said during a phone call with reporters.

About 90% of the panels installed in the United States are made overseas, but imports have been reduced by pandemic-related supply chain disruptions, impending tariffs and tightening border controls to prevent supplies linked to forced labor.

US asset developers, meanwhile, have flocked to First Solar’s cadmium telluride products because the technology does not rely on polysilicon, which is primarily made in China and used in most panels.

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