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Renewable Energy

First Solar picks Alabama for new solar factory

A solar field is seen on site at First Solar in Perrysburg, Ohio July 8, 2022. Picture taken with drone. REUTERS/Megan Jelinger/File Photo

(Reuters) – Top U.S. solar panel manufacturer First Solar Inc on Wednesday said it has chosen Alabama as the home of its fourth domestic factory, giving the state a $1.1 billion investment that will create hundreds of jobs.

The announcement had been anticipated since August, when First Solar said it would expand its manufacturing operations in the United States thanks to passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which provides new tax credits for domestically produced clean energy equipment.

The factory in Lawrence County in northern Alabama will be First Solar’s first U.S. manufacturing facility outside of Ohio and give the company production lines closer to major solar markets like Texas. It will open in 2025 and create 700 jobs, First Solar said in a press release.

The state’s Republican governor, Kay Ivey, said in the company’s statement that the project would “have a major economic impact on this rural region.”

U.S. solar project developers have flocked to First Solar’s cadmium telluride products in part because the technology does not rely on polysilicon, a raw material primarily made in China and used in the vast majority of panels. The domestic industry has been under increasing pressure to move away from a dependence on Chinese-made goods due to supply chain disruptions and concerns about ties to forced labor.

Other solar companies that have initiated plans to expand U.S. manufacturing capacity since passage of the IRA include REC Silicon, SPI Energy and Hanwha Q Cells Corp.

(Reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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