First Solar has introduced its fifth fully vertically integrated manufacturing facility worth $1.1 billion in Iberia Parish, Louisiana, which will produce photovoltaic (PV) solar panels.
The facility is expected to begin commercial shipments by the first half of 2026 and increase the company’s manufacturing capacity by 3.5 GW to reach approximately 14 GW in the U.S. and 25 GW globally in 2026.
The two million sq ft manufacturing facility is designed to transform a sheet of glass into a ready-to-ship Series 7 module in approximately 4.5 hours, thereby producing over one dozen new Louisiana-made solar panels every minute.
While First Solar anticipates having over 4,000 direct employees in the U.S. by 2026, the facility is expected to create over 700 new direct manufacturing jobs and 500 construction jobs in Louisiana over the next 18 months.
Rudolph Libbe will serve as the general contractor for the project and has already engaged with LEMOINE to assist with early site work.
“We are creating enduring value for the US by building a robust solar manufacturing base and the value chains that enable it,” said Mark Widmar, CEO of First Solar. “This delivers jobs and economic value today and establishes the foundations needed for the country to enter the next decade with a secure supply of solar energy technology.”
As part of First Solar’s $4.1 billion manufacturing expansion strategy, approximately 12 GW of nameplate capacity is expected to be introduced in the U.S. and India between the second half of 2023 and 2026.
First Solar aims to complete its new facility in Alabama and expand its existing Ohio footprint in 2024 and also expects its new facility in India to begin commercial production in the fourth quarter of this year.
The company is also investing up to $370 million in an R&D innovation center in Perrysburg, Ohio, which is expected to be completed by 2024.