First Solar’s Economic Impact Study Reveals Significant Contribution to US Economy

By Editor


First Solar has unveiled a report on the economic analysis of a vertically integrated solar manufacturer’s value chain within the United States.

The study, conducted by Kathleen Babineaux Blanco Public Policy Center at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and commissioned by First Solar, utilized IMPLAN economic software to assess the company’s actual and projected expenditure in the US for the years 2023 and 2026, coinciding with the anticipated expansion of its annual nameplate capacity to 14 gigawatts (GW) across Alabama, Louisiana, and Ohio.

According to the findings released by First Solar:

In 2023, the company supported approximately 16,245 direct, indirect, and induced jobs nationwide, contributing a staggering $1.59 billion in annual labor income. With 2,700 employees and nearly $490 million in direct labor income, each non-construction job at First Solar spurred the creation of six additional jobs throughout the US economy, with every dollar spent on wages resulting in $3.3 of labor income.

As a fully vertically integrated solar manufacturer boasting over 6 GW of annual nameplate capacity by the end of 2023, First Solar injected $2.75 billion in value and $5.32 billion in output into the US economy, encompassing both direct and indirect effects.

The company’s construction activities in Alabama, Louisiana, and Ohio supported an estimated 5,765 jobs and generated over $600 million in labor income, while contributing over $900 million in economic value and almost $2 billion in economic output.

Looking ahead to 2026:

First Solar is projected to directly employ 4,100 individuals, thereby supporting an estimated 30,060 jobs across the nation, including direct, indirect, and induced positions. Each job at First Solar is anticipated to generate 7.3 additional jobs nationwide, amounting to an estimated total labor income of $2.78 billion.

The company is poised to add an estimated $4.99 billion in value and $10.18 billion in output to the US economy in 2026 alone, based on forecasts indicating operational nameplate capacity of 14 GW. These figures encompass both direct and indirect effects of First Solar’s activities.

The study’s findings underscore the unique position of First Solar, which operates fully integrated solar manufacturing facilities producing thin film photovoltaic (PV) solar panels through a single process that encompasses wafer and cell manufacturing.

This streamlined process enables the company to transform a sheet of glass into a functional solar panel within approximately four hours. Furthermore, First Solar predominantly relies on an American value chain for raw materials, including glass and steel, supporting its US manufacturing operations.

Mark Widmar, CEO of First Solar, emphasized the significance of the report, stating, “This report reflects the real value of solar technology made in America for America, with materials sourced from businesses across the country.” He highlighted the company’s investments catalyzed by the Inflation Reduction Act, which are driving job creation and prosperity in communities across various states.

In addition to expanding its Ohio footprint to over 7 GW of annual nameplate capacity in the current year, First Solar is slated to invest over $2 billion in new manufacturing facilities in Alabama and Louisiana, expected to commence operations in 2024 and 2026, respectively. Furthermore, the company plans to allocate up to $450 million in R&D infrastructure in Perrysburg, Ohio, with an anticipated operational date of 2024.

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