First Solar Inc. has chosen the Acadiana Regional Airport in Iberia Parish, La., as the location for its previously announced fifth fully vertically integrated manufacturing facility in the United States.
The facility, believed to be the single largest capital infusion in the area’s history, represents an investment of up to $1.1 billion in expanding America’s capacity to produce its own photovoltaic (PV) solar modules. Expected to be completed in the first half of 2026, the plant will create over 700 new direct manufacturing jobs in the state.
“This massive investment and the jobs it will create are a huge win for the people of Acadiana and the entire state,” says Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards. “It is proof positive that Louisiana’s ‘all-of-the-above’ approach to energy is growing and diversifying our economy.”
First Solar is unique among the world’s ten largest solar manufacturers for being the only U.S.-headquartered company and not manufacturing in China. The company’s tellurium-based semiconductor, which allows it to avoid any dependence on Chinese crystalline silicon supply chains, is the second most common photovoltaic technology available today.
Says Mark Widmar, CEO, First Solar: “Louisiana’s ability to deliver the talent we need stood out, thanks to its extensive workforce development initiatives and the presence of academic institutions such as the University of Louisiana at Lafayette which now features a world-class solar energy lab.”
The new Louisiana facility will produce First Solar’s Series 7 modules, which are expected to be manufactured with 100% U.S.-made components. First Solar anticipates that once the new factory is completed and ramped, Series 7 modules will account for over two thirds of its annual domestic nameplate capacity. Series 7 modules currently produced at the company’s Ohio facility are already manufactured with U.S.-made glass and steel.
Since the beginning of this decade, First Solar has embarked on a $4.1 billion manufacturing expansion strategy that has seen it grow from approximately 6 GW of global nameplate capacity in 2020 to 13 GW operational today. The company, already believed to be the largest employer in America’s solar manufacturing sector with more than 2,500 employees across the country, expects to have over 4,000 direct employees in the country by 2026.
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Author: Nina Korman