AES Semigas


27 February 2024

Report analyses economic impact of First Solar’s US manufacturing and supply chain investments

Cadmium telluride (CdTe) thin-film photovoltaic (PV) module maker First Solar Inc of Tempe, AZ, USA has released what is believed to be the first comprehensive economic analysis of a vertically integrated solar manufacturer’s value chain in the USA. Commissioned by First Solar and conducted by the Kathleen Babineaux Blanco Public Policy Center at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the study used IMPLAN economic software to analyze First Solar’s actual and forecasted US spending in 2023 and 2026, when the company expects to have 14GW of annual nameplate capacity across Alabama, Louisiana and Ohio.

The study found that in 2023:

  • First Solar supported an estimated 16,245 direct, indirect and induced jobs across the USA, representing $1.59bn in annual labor income. With 2700 staff and almost $490m in direct labor income, every non-construction First Solar job supported six direct, indirect and induced jobs across the US economy, and every dollar directly spent on wages created $3.3 in labor income.
  • The fully vertically integrated solar manufacturer, which exited 2023 with over 6GW of annual nameplate capacity, added $2.75bn in value and $5.32bn in output to the US economy during the year, including direct, indirect and induced effects.
  • The company’s construction activity in Alabama, Louisiana and Ohio supported an estimated 5765 direct, indirect and induced jobs, representing over $600m in labor income. Construction activity is estimated to have added over $900m in economic value and almost $2bn in economic output in 2023.

Analyzing First Solar’s forecasted US spending in 2026, the study projects that:

  • With the company expected to directly employ 4100 people, it would support an estimated 30,060 direct, indirect and induced jobs across the country in 2026. The study estimates that every First Solar job will support 7.3 jobs across the country, representing an estimated total labor income of $2.78bn, including direct, indirect and induced effects.
  • First Solar would add an estimated $4.99bn in value and $10.18bn in output to the US economy in 2026 alone. The findings are based on the firm’s expectation that it will have 14GW of operational nameplate capacity in the USA in 2026 and include direct, indirect and induced effects.

The study’s findings are unique to First Solar, which operates fully vertically integrated solar manufacturing facilities that produce thin-film photovoltaic (PV) solar panels in a single process that integrates the manufacturing of wafers and cells. The process allows the company to transform a sheet of glass into a fully functional solar panel in approximately four hours. Additionally, First Solar relies primarily on an American value chain for the raw materials, including glass and steel, that enable its US manufacturing operations.

“This report reflects the real value of solar technology made in America for America, with materials sourced from businesses across the country, and not simply assembled here using imported components,” says First Solar’s CEO Mark Widmar. “We know that our investments, catalyzed by the Inflation Reduction Act, are enabling jobs and bringing prosperity to communities in places such as Lawrence County, Alabama, Iberia Parish, Louisiana, and Crawford County, Pennsylvania, and this report helps to quantify the extent of our contribution to the US economy in real terms.”

In addition to expanding its Ohio footprint to over 7GW of annual nameplate capacity this year, Fist Solar expects to invest over $2bn in new manufacturing facilities in Alabama and Louisiana, which are expected to come online in 2024 and 2026, respectively. Additionally, it is investing up to $450m in R&D infrastructure in Perrysburg, Ohio, which is expected to be operational in 2024.

See related items:

First Solar acquires facility for use as distribution center to serve expanding Ohio manufacturing footprint

First Solar breaks ground on $1.1bn 3.5GW Louisiana factory

First Solar selects Alabama for fourth US manufacturing facility

First Solar investing $270m in R&D innovation center in Perrysburg, Ohio

Tags: First Solar CdTe




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