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First Solar to Accelerate American Thin Film PV Innovation with $270 Million Investment in Dedicated R&D Innovation Center

October 27, 2022
  • New 1.3 million square-foot facility expected to fast-track validation of technology and process improvements, enabling development of next-generation thin film solar modules
  • Dedicated R&D facility to optimize rate of learning, reduce downtime on commercial production lines

TEMPE, Ariz., Oct. 27, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- First Solar, Inc. (Nasdaq: FSLR) today announced that it plans to invest approximately $270 million in a dedicated research and development (R&D) innovation center in Perrysburg, Ohio. The new facility is believed to be 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 photovoltaics (PV).

The new R&D center will be located near First Solar’s existing Perrysburg manufacturing facility, covering an area of approximately 1.3 million square feet. It will feature a high-tech pilot manufacturing line allowing for the production of full-sized prototypes of thin film and tandem PV modules. Contigent upon permitting and pending approval of various state, regional and local incentives, the facility is expected to be completed in 2024.

“With a record shipment backlog and consistent demand for our modules, we face the twin challenges of optimizing existing and planned production capacity to deliver on our commitments, while ensuring that our technology roadmap does not lose momentum,” said Mark Widmar, chief executive officer, First Solar. “This investment allows us to create an R&D sandbox separate from our commercial manufacturing operations, ensuring that we can accelerate innovation without the cost of taking mission-critical tools offline.”

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

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

First Solar is unique among the world’s ten largest solar manufacturers for being the only US-headquartered company and only manufacturer of thin film PV modules. The company’s consistent investment in developing cadmium telluride (CadTel) since 1999 has made the semiconductor the second most common PV technology in the world after crystalline silicon, while safeguarding vital intellectual property related to the semiconductor material and its unique manufacturing processes.

First Solar also recently announced an investment of up to $1.2 billion in scaling production of American-made, responsibly-produced solar modules, expanding the company’s US manufacturing footprint to over 10 gigawatts (GW)DC by 2025.

Designed and developed at its R&D centers in California and Ohio, First Solar’s advanced thin film PV modules set industry benchmarks for quality, durability, reliability, design, and environmental performance. The modules have the lowest carbon and water footprint of any commercially available PV technology today. Each module features 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 enhancing its vapor deposition process through continued investment in R&D focused on more efficient module technology with a thinner semiconductor layer. First Solar also operates an advanced recycling program that provides closed-loop semiconductor recovery for use in new modules.

Additionally, First Solar’s differentiated thin film semiconductor, integrated manufacturing process and tightly controlled supply chain helps eliminate the risk of exposure to solar supply chains identified by the US Department of Labor’s 2022 List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor as being tainted by forced labor. First Solar is the only company among the ten largest solar manufacturers globally 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 PV manufacturer to have its product included in the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) global registry for sustainable electronics.

In addition to its Ohio manufacturing facilities, First Solar also operates factories in Vietnam and Malaysia, and is building its first new manufacturing facility in India, which is scheduled to begin operations in the second half of 2023. On completion of its expansion plans in the United States and India, the company expects to have over 20 GWDC of annual global manufacturing capacity in 2025.

About First Solar, Inc.
First Solar is a leading American solar technology company and global provider of responsibly produced eco-efficient solar modules advancing the fight against climate change. Developed at 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, lower-carbon alternative to conventional crystalline silicon PV modules. From raw material sourcing and manufacturing through end-of-life module recycling, First Solar’s approach to technology embodies sustainability and a responsibility towards people and the planet. For more information, please visit www.firstsolar.com.

For First Solar Investors
This press release contains various “forward-looking statements” which are made pursuant to safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements concerning our intention to invest appoximately $270 million in a dedicacted R&D innovation center; our expectation that this innovation center will fast-track validation of technology and process; our expectation that this innovation center will optimize rates of learning and reduce commercial production line downtime; our expectation that, contigent upon permitting and pending approval of various state, regional and local incentives, this innovation center will be comissioned in 2024; our intention to invest up to $1.2 billion in scaling production of our domestically-manufactured, responsibly-produced PV solar modules; our forecast that this investment will expand our ability to produce American-made solar modules for the US solar market to over 10 GWDC by 2025; our plan to establish a new manufacturing facility in India and when the facility is expected to begin operations; and our expectation to have over 20 GWDC of annual global manufacturing capacity by 2025. These forward-looking statements are often characterized by the use of words such as “estimate,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “project,” “plan,” “intend,” “seek,” “believe,” “forecast,” “foresee,” “likely,” “may,” “should,” “goal,” “target,” “might,” “will,” “could,” “predict,” “continue” and the negative or plural of these words and other comparable terminology. 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 any of 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, the matters discussed under the captions “Risk Factors” and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” of our most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and our subsequently filed Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, as supplemented by our other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Media
Reuven Proença
First Solar Media
reuven.proenca@firstsolar.com
Investors
Robyn Remes
First Solar Investor Relations
investor@firstsolar.com

Photos accompanying this announcement are available at
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First Solar to Accelerate American Thin Film PV Innovation with $270 Million Investment in Dedicated R&D Innovation Center

First Solar, Inc. plans to invest approximately $270 million in a dedicated research and development (R&D) innovation center in Perrysburg, Ohio. The new facility is believed to be 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 photovoltaics.
First Solar to Accelerate American Thin Film PV Innovation with $270 Million Investment in Dedicated R&D Innovation Center

First Solar, Inc. plans to invest approximately $270 million in a dedicated research and development (R&D) innovation center in Perrysburg, Ohio. The new facility is believed to be 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 photovoltaics.
Source: First Solar, Inc.
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