First Solar, a U.S.-based manufacturer of solar modules, announced that it would invest $684 million to set up a new, vertically integrated photovoltaic (PV) thin film solar module manufacturing facility in India.
Contingent upon permitting and pending approval of Indian government incentives that are satisfactory to First Solar, the company will build its new manufacturing facility with a 3.3 GW capacity in Tami Nadu. The facility is expected to be operational in the second half of 2023.
With this 3.3 GW capacity module manufacturing facility in India, the company would become the largest solar module manufacturer in the country. This announcement could also force Chinese module manufacturers to re-evaluate their strategies and start thinking about investing in module manufacturing in India.
With the company’s expansion in India and the U.S., First Solar expects that its module manufacturing capacity will double to 16 GWdc in 2024.
The company said the facility would be designed using the advanced manufacturing technology established for its recently announced facility in Ohio. The facility will have a high degree of automation, precision, and continuous improvement with artificial intelligence, internet of things connectivity, and machine-to-machine communication.
Mark Widmar, Chief Executive Officer of First Solar, said, “India is an attractive market for First Solar, and not simply because our module technology is advantaged in its hot, humid climate. It is an inherently sustainable market, underpinned by a growing economy and appetite for energy, with a well-defined goal that will need over 25 GW of solar to be deployed annually for the next nine years.”
“Crucially, it has combined its clean energy targets with effective trade and industrial policy designed to enable self-sufficient domestic manufacturing and true energy security. We also have many longstanding consumers in the country that will be pleased to have access to an advanced photovoltaic module, which is made in India, for India,” Widmar added.
According to Mercom’s India Solar Market Leaderboard 2021, First Solar has supplied a total of 1.94 GW of solar modules to projects in India to date. India is the second-largest market for the company next to North America.
In Q1 2021, First Solar’s net sales touched $803.4 million, increasing $194 million from the previous quarter. In a year-over-year comparison, the net sales were up 51%. The company then said that it aims to reach a nameplate module manufacturing capacity of 8.7 GWdc and 9.4 GWdc by the end of 2021 and 2022, respectively.
Mercom had earlier reported that IDFC Alternatives’ India Infrastructure Fund II (IIF II), through its wholly-owned subsidiary Vector Green Energy, entered into definitive agreements with First Solar Power India and its affiliates to acquire seven operating solar projects with a total capacity of 190 MW across the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
Image credit: First Solar