The US’s largest solar panel maker is making a big impact on the US economy – in numbers

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First Solar added $2.75 billion in value and $5.32 billion in output to the US economy in 2023 alone, and its economic impact is forecasted to soar.

First Solar (Nasdaq: FSLR) today released an economic study revealing the substantial impact of its US solar manufacturing operations. This analysis, a collaboration with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Kathleen Babineaux Blanco Public Policy Center, gives us a look at First Solar’s spending both now and in the future, specifically looking at 2023 and what’s anticipated for 2026. By then, the company plans to ramp up its production to a whopping 14 gigawatts (GW) of solar capacity across Alabama, Louisiana, and Ohio.

Here’s what the study tells us about 2023: First Solar is a major job creator, backing approximately 16,245 jobs in various sectors across the US. This translates to $1.59 billion in labor income. With 2,700 folks directly on the payroll and nearly $490 million going into their pockets, each First Solar job ends up supporting six more jobs throughout the US economy. Even more impressive, every dollar spent on wages by First Solar multiplies into $3.30 of labor income nationwide.

The company’s impact doesn’t stop there. In 2023 alone, with over 6 GW of capacity, it injected $2.75 billion in value and $5.32 billion in output into the US economy, counting all direct, indirect, and induced effects. Its construction projects in Alabama, Louisiana, and Ohio were also significant, supporting around 5,765 jobs and generating more than $600 million in labor income, not to mention adding over $900 million in economic value and nearly $2 billion in output.

Looking ahead to 2026, the projections are even more stellar. With an expected direct workforce of 4,100, First Solar could support around 30,060 jobs across the country, with an estimated total labor income of $2.78 billion. The company’s contribution to the US economy is expected to soar to $4.99 billion in value and $10.18 billion in output, thanks to an expansion to 14 GW of capacity.

First Solar’s unique selling point is that it’s a fully vertically integrated manufacturer of thin-film PV solar panels. This means they can turn a sheet of glass into a functional solar panel in about four hours, relying heavily on US-sourced materials like glass and steel.

Mark Widmar, First Solar’s CEO, said, “We know that our investments, catalyzed by the Inflation Reduction Act, are enabling jobs and bringing prosperity to communities in places such as Lawrence County, Alabama, Iberia Parish, Louisiana, and Crawford County, Pennsylvania, and this report helps quantify the extent of our contribution to the US economy in real terms.”

In 2024, First Solar isn’t just expanding its Ohio operations to over 7 GW; it’s also planning to pour more than $2 billion into new manufacturing facilities in Alabama and Louisiana, set to start operations in 2024 and 2026, respectively. Plus, there’s a $450 million investment in R&D infrastructure in Perrysburg, Ohio, on the horizon for this year.

Read more: The US’s largest solar panel maker is taking over a Peloton factory


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