First Solar, Inc. signed a framework agreement with National Grid Renewables for 2 gigawatts (GW)DC of advanced, responsibly-produced thin film photovoltaic (PV) solar modules. Scheduled for delivery in 2024 and 2025 throughout the United States, the contracted modules are part of First Solar’s advanced Cadmium Telluride (CadTel) thin film module technology platform. The deal was booked prior to the release of First Solar’s Q1 2022 earnings in April.
Over the past decade, National Grid Renewables and First Solar have partnered on multiple projects, including the recently operational 200-megawatt (MW) Prairie Wolf Solar Project in Illinois and the currently under construction Noble Solar (275 MW) and Storage (125 MWh) Project in Texas. As a farmer-friendly and community-focused company, National Grid Renewables develops projects for corporations and utilities that seek to repower America’s electricity grid by reigniting local economies and reinvesting in a sustainable future. A Minneapolis-headquartered business, National Grid Renewables is part of the Ventures division of National Grid and has a portfolio of solar, wind, and energy storage projects located throughout the US in various stages of development, construction and operation.
“National Grid Renewables and First Solar share more than just deep roots in the US Midwest and a longstanding strategic partnership. We share a common view on the need to create a sustainable energy future,” said Nathan Franzen, Vice President, Development for National Grid Renewables. “We’re pleased to be working with First Solar as we continue on our mission to deploy clean, economically beneficial and community-focused solar energy projects, powered by responsibly produced American solar technology.”
Designed and developed at its research and development (R&D) centers in California and Ohio, First Solar’s responsibly produced advanced thin film PV modules set industry benchmarks for quality, durability, reliability, design, and environmental performance. It is the only one of the world’s ten largest solar manufacturers 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, and has zero tolerance for forced labor in its manufacturing or its supply chains. First Solar’s modules have a carbon footprint that is 2.5 times lower and a water footprint that is three times lower than the average crystalline silicon solar panel made with cells produced in China.
“As America’s solar company, we’re proud of the fact that National Grid Renewables has, once again, selected our technology to power its mission to repower rural American communities,” said Georges Antoun, chief commerical officer, First Solar. “Experienced project developers and owner-operators like National Grid Renewables understand the criticality of both, insulating themselves from pricing and supply volatility, and staying true to their values and principles. Both factors are invaluable in helping them successfully navigate some of the industry’s headwinds.”
First Solar is investing $680 million in expanding America’s domestic PV solar manufacturing capacity by 3.3 GW annually, by building its third US manufacturing facility, in Lake Township, Ohio. The new facility is expected to be commissioned in the first half of 2023 and when fully operational will scale the company’s Northwest Ohio footprint to a total annual capacity of 6 GW, which is believed to make it the largest fully vertically integrated solar manufacturing complex outside of China. First Solar has invested over $2 billion in its US manufacturing footprint and, when its third factory is fully operational, will directly employ over 2,500 people in Ohio, while supporting an estimated 15,000 indirect jobs through its American supply chain.
In addition to its Ohio manufacturing facilities, First Solar also operates factories in Vietnam and Malaysia, and is building a new 3.3 GW factory in India that is expected to be commissioned in the second half of 2023. With First Solar’s expansion in the United States and India and optimization of its existing fleet, the company anticipates that its nameplate manufacturing capacity will double to 16 GW in 2024. First Solar is the only US-headquartered company among the world’s ten largest solar manufacturers.