First Solar plans to expand its manufacturing footprint
First Solar intends to invest USD 684 million in a new, fully vertically integrated photovoltaic (PV) thin film solar module manufacturing facility in India.
Contingent upon permitting, and pending approval of Indian government incentives that are satisfactory to First Solar, the advanced facility is expected to be built in the state of Tamil Nadu and commence operations in the second half of 2023. The planned facility is projected to have a nameplate capacity of 3.3 gigawatts (GW)DC. With First Solar’s expansion in the United States and India and optimisation of its existing fleet, the company anticipates that its nameplate manufacturing capacity will double to 16 GWDC in 2024. “India is an attractive market for First Solar, and not simply because our module technology is advantaged in its hot, humid climate. It is an inherently sustainable market, underpinned by a growing economy and appetite for energy, with a well-defined goal that will need over 25 GW of solar to be deployed every year for the next nine years,” says Mark Widmar, chief executive officer, First Solar in a press release. “Crucially, it has combined its clean energy targets with effective trade and industrial policy designed to enable self-sufficient domestic manufacturing and true energy security. We also have many longstanding customers in the country that will be pleased to have access to an advanced PV module, which is made in India, for India.” The International Energy Agency (IEA) has projected that India will overtake the European Union (EU) to become the world’s third largest consumer of electricity by 2030, as the country’s population and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) continue to grow. As part of its climate targets, India has committed to ensuring that renewables will make up 40% of its energy portfolio by 2030, and the country is forecast to account for almost 20% of the world’s installed solar capacity by 2040. The facility will be designed using the advanced manufacturing template established for First Solar’s recently-announced factory in Ohio. Combining skilled workers with Industry 4.0 architecture, machine-to-machine communication, artificial intelligence, and Internet of Things connectivity, it will feature high degrees of automation, precision, and continuous improvement.