Lightsource bp has placed an order for 4 gigawatts (GW)DC of advanced thin film solar modules with First Solar, Inc. The modules, scheduled to be delivered between 2026 and 2028, are expected to power Lightsource bp projects in the United States. This latest deal follows a prior order by Lightsource bp for up to 4.3 GWDC signed in 2021 and places the company on the path to becoming one of the world’s largest users of First Solar’s ultra-low carbon solar technology.
“The US solar industry is at a pivotal moment, poised to expand at an exponential rate with the Inflation Reduction Act serving as the catalyst,” said Kevin Smith, chief executive officer, Americas, Lightsource bp. “We are seizing the opportunity by not just growing our 20 GW development pipeline across the United States but also creating sizeable demand for our US-based partner First Solar, which, in turn, is investing in innovation and manufacturing and supporting thousands of direct and indirect American jobs.”
The deal includes orders for First Solar’s Series 6 Plus and next-generation Series 7 modules. Designed and developed at its R&D centres in California and Ohio, First Solar’s advanced thin-film PV modules set industry benchmarks for quality, durability, reliability, design, and environmental performance.
Lightsource bp has been a leader in fostering circularity in the solar industry and, as such, has committed to recycling solar panels across all its projects. As part of this pledge, Lightsource bp has also committed to using First Solar’s advanced high-value recycling program to manage modules at the end of their operating lives. First Solar is a pioneer in recycling solar panels, operating an advanced recycling program that provides closed-loop semiconductor recovery for use in new modules while also recovering other materials, including aluminium, glass, and laminates.
Additionally, Lightsource bp has set targets to reduce Scope 1, 2, and 3 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and is proud to work with First Solar, which has also set targets to reduce its Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions. Significantly, First Solar is the first PV manufacturer to include its product in the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) global registry for sustainable electronics.
“This is another sizeable commitment by Lightsource bp and a reflection of their trust in First Solar and our technology,” said Georges Antoun, chief commercial officer of First Solar. “Our relationship with Lightsource bp is a partnership in growth. We enable their growth with certainty through long-term pricing and supply commitments, and advanced technology, while they enable ours by providing the certainty of demand we need to invest in manufacturing.”
First Solar is expanding its US manufacturing capacity, with a third factory expected to come online in Ohio in the first half of 2023 and a fourth factory under construction in Alabama and expected to be commissioned by 2025. Both factories will produce the Series 7 modules ordered by Lightsource bp. First Solar’s new $1.1 billion Alabama factory and $185 million expansion of its existing manufacturing footprint in Ohio are expected to bring its total investment in American manufacturing to over $4 billion. The company’s annual US nameplate manufacturing capacity is forecast to expand to 10.6 GWDC by 2026.
First Solar estimates that its new investments in Alabama and Ohio will add at least 850 new manufacturing and over 100 new R&D jobs, taking its total number of direct jobs in the US to over 3,000 people in four states by 2025, which is believed to make it one of the largest employers in the American solar manufacturing sector.
Image source: Courtesy of Lightsource bp
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