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First Solar announces $270M research and development center in Perrysburg

The new facility is believed to be the largest of its kind in the United States and is designed to enhance production of advanced thin film photovoltaics.

PERRYSBURG, Ohio — First Solar is making yet another large investment in northwest Ohio.

The Tempe, Ariz.-based solar panel manufacturer announced plans Thursday for a $270 million research and development innovation center in Perrysburg. The new facility is believed to be the largest of its kind in the United States and is designed to enhance production of advanced thin film photovoltaics (PV).

“With a record shipment backlog and consistent demand for our modules, we face the twin challenges of optimizing existing and planned production capacity to deliver on our commitments, while ensuring that our technology roadmap does not lose momentum,” First Solar CEO Mark Widmar said. “This investment allows us to create an R&D sandbox separate from our commercial manufacturing operations, ensuring that we can accelerate innovation without the cost of taking mission-critical tools offline.”

The facility will be located near First Solar's existing Perrysburg manufacturing plant and occupy about 1.3 million square feet. Plans include a high-tech pilot manufacturing line allowing for production of full-sized prototypes of thin film and tandem PV modules.

The center is expected to open in 2024, pending permitting and approval of various incentives. The project will create about 200 jobs.

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

In August, First Solar announced it was investing $185 million into its existing northwest Ohio footprint.

The company's two existing facilities in Perrysburg and Lake Township comprise the largest vertically-integrated complex of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. They will now expand by 0.9 gigawatts (GWDC).

The additional funding will expand the Perrysburg and Lake Township plants by 0.6 GWDC to 3.6 GWDC of annual Series 6 module capacity. A second Lake Township plant already in the works will expand to 3.5 GWDC of annual Series 7 module capacity.

That third facility in the region - which is adjacent to the existing plant in Lake Township - began construction last year and is expected to be commissioned in the first half of 2023 and running at full capacity by 2025.

"As America looks ahead toward the future of energy development, northwest Ohio will serve as the hub and our workers as the craftsmen,” U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo) said in a statement Thursday on the First Solar announcement.

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