First Solar, Inc has announced that it plans to invest approximately $270 million in a dedicated research and development (R&D) innovation center in Perrysburg, Ohio. The new facility is thought to be the first of its kind in the country (PV).
It is expected to speed up American leadership in the development and production of advanced thin film photovoltaics. The new R&D center will be situated next to First Solar’s current Perrysburg production facility.
The facility will have a floor space of over 1.3 million square feet. In addition, it will have a cutting-edge pilot production line. This will enable the creation of full-sized prototypes of tandem and thin film PV modules. The project is anticipated to be finished in 2024 following the approval of necessary permits and numerous state, regional, and local incentives.
About the Ohio First Solar Innovation Center developer
At its Perrysburg site, First Solar, which has already spent more than $1.5 billion on R&D, currently runs a dual-purpose manufacturing line that supports both the company’s commercial production of solar modules and its efforts in product development. Nevertheless, the line is unable to support both operations at once.
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The company is the only US-based business and sole producer of thin film PV modules among the top ten solar power producers worldwide. Since 1999, the company has consistently invested in the development of cadmium telluride (CadTel). This makes it the second most popular PV technology in the world after crystalline silicon.
Furthermore, the company has protected crucial intellectual property related to the semiconductor material and its special manufacturing techniques.
Commentary on the project
“We have a record backlog of shipments and steady demand for our modules. The company will confront the dual challenges of optimizing current and projected production capacity. We need to meet our commitments while maintaining the momentum of our technology roadmap.
According to First Solar’s CEO Mark Widmar, this investment enables us to establish an R&D sandbox independent from our commercial manufacturing processes, guaranteeing that we may speed up innovation without having to pay to shut down mission-critical tools.