First Solar Inc on Friday said it is planning to invest USD 684 million (about Rs 5,000 crore) to set up a fully 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 advanced facility is expected to commence operations in the second half of 2023, a company statement 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 every year for the next nine years,” said Mark Widmar, chief executive officer, First Solar.
The planned facility is projected to have a nameplate capacity of 3.3 gigawatts (GW) DC.
Unique among the world’s ten largest solar manufacturers for being the only US-headquartered company, for not using crystalline silicon (c-Si) semiconductor, and for not manufacturing in China, First Solar produces its thin-film PV modules using a fully integrated, continuous process under one roof and does not rely on Chinese c-Si supply chains.
“India stands apart in the decisiveness of its response to China’s strategy of the state-subsidised global dominance of the crystalline silicon solar supply chain.
“The country’s comprehensive approach provides precisely the kind of level playing field needed for non-Chinese solar manufacturers to compete on their own merits and should be a template for other like-minded nations. We’re very pleased to be able to support the sustainable energy ambitions of a major US ally in the Indo-Pacific region with American-designed solar technology,” Widmar said.
The facility is expected to be located in Tamil Nadu and is projected to create over 1,000 new jobs in the state.
It will be designed using the advanced manufacturing template established for First Solar’s recently-announced factory in Ohio and will combine highly skilled workers with Industry 4.0 architecture, machine-to-machine communication, artificial intelligence, and Internet of Things connectivity.
Additionally, the proposed facility will follow First Solar’s Responsible Solar principles across sourcing, manufacturing, and lifecycle management, and is expected to feature an integrated, high-value recycling facility that will be able to recover over 90 per cent of materials from processed modules for reuse.
The company’s resource-efficient manufacturing process allows it to produce solar modules with a carbon footprint that is 2.5-times lower, a water footprint that is three times lower, and an energy payback time that is twice as fast as c-Si panels made in China.
First Solar is a leading American solar technology company and global provider of responsibly produced eco-efficient solar modules advancing the fight against climate change.
Developed at R&D labs in California and Ohio, the company’s advanced thin-film photovoltaic (PV) modules represent the next generation of solar technologies, providing a competitive, high-performance, lower-carbon alternative to conventional crystalline silicon PV panels.