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First Solar (FSLR) Starts Building 3.3 GWdc Facility in Ohio

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·3 min read
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First Solar Inc. FSLR recently started construction of its third manufacturing facility in Ohio, wherein enhanced thin film photovoltaic (PV) solar modules will be produced. With a total capacity of 3.3 gigawatt-direct current (GWdc), the plant will enable manufacturing of one module every 2.75 seconds, on average.

On reaching full capacity, this facility will support the company in achieving its target for nameplate manufacturing capacity, which is projected to double to 16 gigawatts (GW) in 2024.

Why Ohio?

The State of Ohio has witnessed a rapid surge in solar power over the last decade. Evidently, renewable energy resources supplied about 3% of Ohio's total in-state electricity generation in 2020, with solar energy accounting for a little more than one-tenth of the state’s total renewable generation, as stated by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Notably, a number of factors like a strong net metering program, solar renewable energy certificates, and state sponsored interest rate reductions have bolstered the solar market’s growth in the Buckeye state.

Wood Mackenzie ranked Ohio as the top state in the Midwest for solar development over the next five years, as per a report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. Naturally, the state offers a profitable market for solar players like First Solar.

First Solar’s Initiatives

First Solar has had a manufacturing presence in the state since it began commercial production at its original Perrysburg factory in 2002. Since then, the company has invested over $2 billion in expanding its Ohio manufacturing presence, making the state home to the largest photovoltaic solar manufacturing footprint in the Western Hemisphere following its second factory’s opening in 2019.

Now, this third manufacturing facility, wherein First Solar aims to invest $680 million, will scale the company’s Northwest Ohio footprint to a total annual capacity of 6 GWdc. This in turn is believed to make it the largest fully vertically integrated solar manufacturing complex outside China, thereby further strengthening First Solar’s position in the global solar market.

Once fully operational, this facility, set to produce more efficient modules, will aid First Solar in achieving its recently revealed target to become emission free by 2050 at the latest.

What Are Other Solar Player’s Planning?

To capture larger share of the expanding global solar market, other solar players are also taking necessary initiatives.

For instance, Enphase ENPH launched its Enphase Installation Network (EIN) in Europe, Mexico and India, during the second quarter of 2021.

Another solar player, ReneSola SOL aims to add incremental project pipeline in its core markets, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, Poland, France, Germany and Hungary, to reach 2GW by the end of 2021.

Canadian Solar CSIQ unveiled its new heterojunction module product during the SNEC Exhibition in Shanghai in June and aims to start deliveries in October.

Zacks Rank & Price Movement

First Solar currently carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).

You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Shares of First Solar have gained 23.3% in the past 12 months compared with the industry’s 12% rise.

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