It’s clear from the evidence of our struggling climate that the world is indeed in an energy crisis. The way forward is through harvesting renewable resources that benefit both us and the planet. The leading market is solar power, and as of 2019, the largest US manufacturer in the field is First Solar.
Since its beginning in 1999, First Solar has been invested in not only the future, but also in America. Born in Ohio, they are still headquartered there today and are planning their future to expand on US land. The company is on course to invest $1.2 billion to grow its operations in Ohio, adding a third facility to its existing two by 2023 and building a new plant in Alabama by 2025.
In reference to the new facility planned in Alabama, First Solar’s chief executive officer, Mark Widmar, states, “we are proud of the role that this facility will play in creating stable, good-paying manufacturing jobs in the state, demonstrating the economic and social value that clean energy can deliver.”
First Solar’s Goals by 2025
Why is First Solar sketching out such an expansion? They’ve maxed their potential production of solar panels all the way up to the year 2025. For the next two years, every panel made by First Solar has already been spoken for. That’s how long consumers are willing to wait for this solar setup.
These plans to expand their infrastructure coalesce with a need for hiring more American workers and bolster the domestic job market. By 2025, First Solar hopes to reach a $4 billion total investment in the US solar supply chain, hit a >10GW total US annual capacity, produce an American-made solar module every 1.6 seconds, and host over 3,000 employees across four states.
In the next two years, First Solar won’t just amp up the American economy and aid in decarbonizing our climate; they’ll also become the largest domestic employer in solar manufacturing.
Balancing Global Production with American Manufacturing
Along with their American factories, First Solar also has manufacturing facilities overseas. Sites include Malaysia, Vietnam, and a planned facility to be built in India. Despite this footprint abroad, the company is insistent on its desire to invest in American manufacturing. This includes working to source the majority of their materials, like steel and glass, from US suppliers. The 2025 goal year has First Solar expected to support an additional 15,000 US jobs by secondary material demand.
As the demand for solar energy grows, the market must evolve with it as well. Businesses and homeowners alike are looking for solutions to the ever-rising cost of energy. The government continues to incentivize people to make the switch to clean energy by offering tax cuts and rebates on purchases like solar power and electric vehicles.
Incentives help fuel the ever-escalating demand, resulting in a cycle of local interest and domestic production. This aids the consumer in providing a needed service, boosts American manufacturing (for the finished product and the locally sourced materials), expands American jobs, and cycles back to supporting the consumer and, ultimately, the planet we live on.
By 2025, both the American economy and climate will greatly benefit from the domestic expansion of First Solar. And in that sense, so will the world.
Image courtesy of First Solar.