The US’s largest solar panel maker opens a 3.3 GW factory in India


First Solar, the largest solar panel maker in the US, today announced that it has broken ground on India’s first fully vertically integrated solar plant.

The factory, which is in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu, has an annual nameplate capacity of 3.3 gigawatts (GW) and directly employs around 1,000 people. It will produce First Solar’s Series 7 solar panels that are developed at its US R&D centers and optimized for the Indian market. 

This new facility has some pretty special distinctions: It’s home to India’s first solar panel recycling plant, and it’s also believed to be the world’s first net-zero water withdrawal solar factory.

Because the factory is in a high baseline water stress area, it’s designed to minimize its impact on local water resources by relying entirely on tertiary-treated reverse osmosis water from the city’s sewage treatment plant. It will have zero wastewater discharge.

Tempe, Arizona-based First Solar’s sixth operational factory expands the company’s global manufacturing footprint to four countries, including the US, Malaysia, and Vietnam.

The US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) provided $500 million of the $700 million in financing for First Solar’s India factory. Its CEO, Scott Nathan, said:

The United States is leveraging American innovation and technology to diversify critical energy supply chains around the world and drive economic growth in India.

That’s good for the United States and it’s good for India.

This $500 million in financing reflects the increasing strength of our partnership with India – DFC’s largest market and a like-minded partner with a dynamic private sector.

Since 2020, First Solar has embarked on a $4.1 billion manufacturing expansion strategy that has seen it grow from approximately 6 GW operational in 2020 to over 16 GW global nameplate capacity at the end of 2023. The company commissioned its third US factory, in Ohio, in 2023.

The US’s largest solar panel maker is further growing its footprint in the US with a 0.9 GW expansion of its Ohio manufacturing complex and new factories in Alabama and Louisiana, each of which is expected to add 3.5 GW of annual nameplate capacity when online. First Solar expects to have 25 GW of yearly global nameplate capacity by 2026.

Read more: Wisconsin’s largest solar farm is now fully online

Photo: First Solar

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