Yesterday, First Solar, Inc. revealed that it has received a sizable order from the global solar leader, Lightsource bp. As per the order, Lightsource bp has purchased 4 gigawatts (GW)DC of advanced thin film solar modules, which are slated to be delivered between 2026 and 2028. The modules will be utilized to power Lightsource bp projects in the United States, cementing the company’s position as one of the foremost users of First Solar’s ultra-low carbon solar technology. This new order comes on the heels of Lightsource bp’s previous purchase of up to 4.3 GWDC in 2021.
“The US solar industry is at a pivotal moment, poised to expand at an exponential rate with the Inflation Reduction Act serving as the catalyst,” said Kevin Smith, chief executive officer, Americas, Lightsource bp. “We are seizing the opportunity by not just growing our 20 GW development pipeline across the United States, but also creating sizeable demand for our US-based partner First Solar, which, in turn, is investing in innovation and manufacturing, and supporting thousands of direct and indirect American jobs.”
Under this new deal, Lightsource bp has placed orders for two of First Solar’s most cutting-edge products: the Series 6 Plus and the next-generation Series 7 modules. First Solar’s advanced thin-film PV modules are highly regarded in the industry for their exceptional quality, durability, reliability, design, and environmental performance. These modules are designed and developed at First Solar’s R&D centers in California and Ohio, making them truly American-made products.
As a leading proponent of circularity in the solar industry, Lightsource bp has made a firm commitment to recycling solar panels across all its projects. To this end, the company has pledged to use First Solar’s advanced high-value recycling program to manage modules at the end of their operating lives. First Solar is one of the pioneers in recycling solar panels and operates an advanced recycling program that recovers materials such as closed-loop semiconductor recovery for use in new modules, aluminum, glass, and laminates.
Moreover, Lightsource bp has set ambitious targets to reduce its Scope 1, 2, and 3 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The company is proud to partner with First Solar, which has also set targets to reduce its Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions. Notably, First Solar is the first PV manufacturer to have its product included in the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) global registry for sustainable electronics. This inclusion attests to the eco-friendliness and sustainability of First Solar’s products and the company’s commitment to environmental stewardship.
First Solar’s American Manufacturing Operations
To accommodate the surge in demand from Lightsource bp and other customers, First Solar is ramping up its US manufacturing operations. The company is set to open a third factory in Ohio in the first half of 2023, which will join the existing facilities in Ohio and Vietnam. Additionally, First Solar is constructing a fourth factory in Alabama, which is expected to be commissioned by 2025. Both factories will produce the Series 7 modules that Lightsource bp has ordered, allowing the company to meet its growing demand for ultra-low carbon solar technology.
The investment in these new factories represents a significant commitment to US manufacturing by First Solar, with the Alabama factory alone costing $1.1 billion. In total, the company’s investment in American manufacturing is expected to exceed $4 billion. By 2026, First Solar’s annual US nameplate manufacturing capacity is forecast to reach 10.6 GWDC, making it a key player in the American solar manufacturing sector.
In addition to expanding its manufacturing capacity, First Solar’s investments are expected to create significant job opportunities in the US. The company estimates that the new factories will add at least 850 new manufacturing jobs and over 100 new R&D jobs. By 2025, First Solar is projected to employ over 3,000 people across four states, cementing its position as one of the largest employers in the American solar manufacturing sector.