Research development

First Solar Announces $270 Million Research and Development Facility in Perrysburg

PERRYSBURG – First Solar Inc. plans to invest approximately $270 million in a dedicated research and development innovation center in Perrysburg.

The new facility is considered 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 photovoltaic systems, according to a press release Thursday.

The new R&D center will be located near First Solar’s existing manufacturing facility in Perrysburg, covering an area of ​​approximately 1.3 million square feet.

Wood County Economic Development Commission Director Wade Gottschalk said the center will create 100 jobs and donate $1.3 million per year for 10 years to the Rossford School District, pending reduction agreements. ‘tax. Penta Career Center is expected to receive $90,000 per year for the next 10 years.

“First Solar has been an incredible corporate citizen for Wood County for over two decades,” Gottschalk said. “We are extremely pleased to see that they are considering another investment in Wood County.”

There are many reasons why the region continues to be a good place for First Solar to expand and invest, he said.

“They started here,” Gottschalk said, adding that the area also has a rich history of glass that is part of First Solar’s operations. “We are a very business-friendly county with excellent location advantages.

Attractive infrastructure already in place includes water and sewer, roads and electricity, Gottschalk said.

“Based on all the wins we’ve had across the county, this is just another example of Wood County being business friendly and getting things done,” he said. .

The new R&D center will include a high-tech pilot manufacturing line allowing the production of full-size prototypes of thin-film and tandem PV modules. Subject to clearance and approval from various national, regional and local incentives, the installation is expected to be completed in 2024.

“With a record backlog and steady demand for our modules, we face the dual challenge of optimizing existing and planned production capacity to meet our commitments, while ensuring that our technology roadmap does not lose its momentum,” said Mark Widmar, CEO of First Solar. executive officer.

“This investment allows us to create an R&D sandbox separate from our commercial manufacturing operations, ensuring we can accelerate innovation without the cost of taking critical tools offline,” he said.

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

“We expect this new facility to play a central role in consolidating America’s leadership in the development and responsible production of high-performance thin-film photovoltaic semiconductors,” said Markus Gloeckler, Chief Technology Officer of First Solar. “This facility will be designed with the future in mind, and we hope it will directly enable the next generation of advanced photovoltaics.”

Thursday’s announcement is the latest in news about First Solar’s expansion and upgrade in Wood County.

In August, the company announced a $185 million upgrade to its two operating facilities in Perrysburg and Lake Township.

Also in that August release, First Solar announced plans to expand its third plant, which is currently under construction in Lake Township and is expected to open early next year.

Last year, First Solar announced Lake Township’s $680 million expansion project that will create an additional 500 jobs. When the 1.8 million square foot expansion is complete, First Solar will have a total of 2,000 employees working in Wood County.

According to the press release, First Solar is unique among the top 10 solar manufacturers in the world as the only US-based company and only manufacturer of thin-film photovoltaic modules. The company’s continued investment in the development of cadmium telluride (CadTel) since 1999 has made the semiconductor the second most widespread PV technology in the world after crystalline silicon, while preserving the vital intellectual property associated with the semi-material. -conductor and its unique manufacturing processes.

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