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First Solar Brightens Louisiana Economy With Plant Announcement

Louisiana scored a major clean-energy win over the summer when First Solar, an Arizona-based solar technology company, announced it would build a new manufacturing plant at the Acadiana Regional Airport in Iberia Parish.

The location was announced in an Aug. 10 press release, just a couple of weeks after First Solar originally unveiled its plans to build a fifth manufacturing facility in the United States. At an estimated cost of up to $1.1 billion, the Iberia Parish plant is believed to be the single largest capital investment in the area’s history, according to the company.

Photo Courtesy First Solar

The plant will produce photovoltaic (PV) solar modules and is expected to be completed in the first half of 2026. Once it’s up and running, the facility is forecast to grow First Solar’s nameplate manufacturing capacity by 3.5 gigawatts (GW) to reach roughly 14 GW in the U.S. in 2026. 

First Solar expects to create more than 700 new direct jobs with the expansion and eyes an annual payroll of at least $40 million.

That should bring plenty of joy to Louisiana officials who’ve been pushing for new industries to diversify the state economy, which is heavily reliant on oil and natural gas.

Photo Courtesy First Solar

“Louisiana has been leading on energy development for decades. Our state’s leadership, coupled with the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, has positioned us to make projects like this possible,” applauded U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy following the announcement.

According to a press release from Governor John Bel Edwards Louisiana governor’s office, the Acadiana facility will be built on a LED Certified Site. This designation means it has undergone “extensive due diligence and studies” to be declared ready for development. The plant will manufacture First Solar’s Series 7 modules, which are expected to be outfitted with 100% U.S.-made components.

First Solar touts the fact that it is not reliant on China-based manufacturing, unlike many of the other leading solar manufacturers.

The company’s tellurium-based semiconductor is the second most common photovoltaic technology currently available. 

“We are pleased to partner with Louisiana as we lean into our commitment to creating enduring value for America by expanding our solar manufacturing footprint and the domestic value chains that enable it,” First Solar CEO Mark Widmar said. “As we evaluated our options, Louisiana’s ability to deliver the talent we need stood out, thanks to its extensive workforce development initiatives and the presence of academic institutions such as the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, which now features a world-class solar energy lab.” 

Photo Courtesy First Solar

First Solar’s plan to open a fifth U.S. facility was first announced on July 27. In that announcement, the company said that once the new factory is completed and ramped up, Series 7 modules will account for more than two-thirds of its annual domestic nameplate capacity. Series 7 modules currently produced at its Ohio facility are already manufactured with U.S.-made glass and steel. 

“This decision [to expand] is underpinned by robust fundamentals, including an order backlog of approximately 78 gigawatts, the industry’s strongest balance sheet, a repeatable vertically integrated manufacturing template, and a proven technology platform,” Widmar said in a statement. “By expanding America’s solar manufacturing base, and the value chains that support it, we are working to ensure that the U.S. enters the next decade in a position of strength, fully capable of producing the technology it needs to complete its transition to a sustainable energy future.” 


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