First Solar to Accelerate U.S. Thin-Film Photovoltaic Innovation

  • New 1.3 million square foot facility expected to accelerate validation of technology and process improvements, enabling development of next-generation thin-film solar modules
  • Dedicated R&D facility to optimize learning rate, reduce downtime on commercial production lines

TEMPE, Ariz., Oct. 27, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — First Solar, Inc. (Nasdaq: FSLR) today announced plans to invest approximately $270 million in an Innovation Center dedicated to research and development (R&D) in Perrysburg, Ohio. The new facility is considered the first of its scale in the United States and is expected to accelerate American leadership in the development and production of advanced thin-film photovoltaic (PV) systems.

The new R&D center will be located near First Solar’s existing manufacturing facility in Perrysburg, covering an area of ​​approximately 1.3 million square feet. It will include a high-tech pilot manufacturing line allowing the production of full-size prototypes of thin-film and tandem photovoltaic modules. Subject to clearance and approval from various national, regional and local incentives, the installation is expected to be completed in 2024.

“With a record backlog and steady demand for our modules, we face the dual challenge of optimizing existing and planned production capacity to meet our commitments, while ensuring that our technology roadmap does not lose momentum,” said Mark Widmar, CEO. , First Solar. “This investment allows us to create an R&D sandbox separate from our commercial manufacturing operations, ensuring we can accelerate innovation without the cost of taking critical tools offline.”

First Solar, which has already invested more than $1.5 billion in R&D, currently operates a dual-purpose manufacturing line at its Perrysburg facility that handles both commercial solar module production and product development efforts. of the company. The line, however, cannot handle both activities simultaneously.

“We expect this new facility to play a pivotal role in consolidating America’s leadership in the development and responsible production of high-performance thin-film photovoltaic semiconductors,” said Markus Gloeckler, chief technology officer at First Solar. “This facility will be designed with the future in mind and we hope will directly enable the next generation of advanced photovoltaics.”

First Solar is unique among the ten largest solar panel manufacturers in the world as it is the only company headquartered in the United States and the only manufacturer of thin-film photovoltaic modules. The company’s continued investment in the development of cadmium telluride (CadTel) since 1999 has made the semiconductor the second most widespread PV technology in the world after crystalline silicon, while preserving the vital intellectual property associated with the semi-material. -conductor and its unique manufacturing processes.

First Solar also recently announced an investment of up to $1.2 billion in large-scale production of US-made and responsibly produced solar modules, expanding the company’s manufacturing footprint in the US. United to more than 10 gigawatts (GW).CC by 2025.

Designed and developed at its R&D centers in California and Ohio, First Solar’s advanced thin-film photovoltaic modules set industry benchmarks for quality, durability, reliability, design and environmental performance. . The modules have the lowest carbon and water footprint of any PV technology commercially available today. Each module has a layer of cadmium telluride (CadTel) semiconductor that is only three percent the thickness of a human hair. Additionally, the company continues to optimize the amount of semiconductor material used by improving its vapor deposition process through continued R&D investments focused on more efficient module technology with a thinner semiconductor layer. First Solar also runs an advanced recycling program that provides closed-loop recovery of semiconductors for use in new modules.

Additionally, First Solar’s differentiated thin-film semiconductor, integrated manufacturing process, and tightly controlled supply chain help eliminate the risk of exposure to solar supply chains identified by the 2022 List of Produced Goods. by child labor or forced labor of the United States Department of Labor as being tainted by forced labor. work. First Solar is the only company among the world’s ten largest solar energy manufacturers to be a member of the Responsible Business Alliance (RBA), the world’s largest industry coalition dedicated to supporting the rights and well-being of workers and communities in the global supply chain. The company is also the first manufacturer of photovoltaic panels whose product is included in the global EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool) register for sustainable electronics.

In addition to its manufacturing facilities in Ohio, First Solar also operates factories in Vietnam and Malaysia, and is building its first new manufacturing facility in India, which is expected to start operations in the second half of 2023. Upon completion of its expansion plans in the United States and India, the company plans to have more than 20 GWCC of annual global manufacturing capacity in 2025.

About First Solar, Inc.
First Solar is a leading American solar technology company and global supplier of responsibly produced, eco-efficient solar modules to advance the fight against climate change. Developed in R&D labs in California and Ohio, the company’s advanced thin-film PV modules represent the next generation of solar technologies, providing a competitive, high-performance, low-carbon alternative to conventional PV modules in crystalline silicon. From sourcing and manufacturing raw materials to recycling end-of-life modules, First Solar’s technology approach embodies sustainability and responsibility to people and the planet. For more information, visit www.firstsolar.com.

For early solar investors
This press release contains various “forward-looking statements” that are made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements regarding our intention to invest approximately $270 million in a dedicated R&D innovation center; our expectation that this innovation center will accelerate technology and process validation; our expectation that this innovation center will optimize learning rates and reduce commercial production line downtime; our expectation that, subject to the clearance and approval of various national, regional and local incentives, this innovation center will be operational in 2024; our intention to invest up to $1.2 billion in the large-scale production of our locally and responsibly manufactured solar photovoltaic modules; our expectation that this investment will expand our ability to produce US-made solar modules for the US solar market to more than 10 GWCC by 2025; our plans to establish a new manufacturing facility in India and the date on which the facility is expected to commence operations; and our expectation of having more than 20 GWCC of annual worldwide manufacturing capacity by 2025. These forward-looking statements are often characterized by the use of words such as “estimate”, “expect”, “anticipate”, “project”, “plan”, “have the intention”, “seek”, “believe”, “expect”, “anticipate”, “probable”, “may”, “should”, “goal”, “target”, “could”, “will”, “could”, “predict”, “continue” and the negative or plural of these words and other comparable terms. Forward-looking statements are only predictions based on First Solar’s current expectations and First Solar’s projections about future events and therefore speak only as of the date of this release. You should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. First Solar undertakes no obligation to update these forward-looking statements for any reason, whether as a result of new information, future developments or otherwise. These forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause First Solar’s actual results, levels of activity, performance or achievements to differ materially from those expressed or implied. by these statements. These factors include, but are not limited to, matters discussed under the “Risk Factors” and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” sections of our most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and of our quarterly report subsequently filed. Reports on Form 10-Q, supplemented by our other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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