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America’s largest solar panel maker to build $270 million thin-film PV R&D center

First Solar, the largest solar panel maker in the United States, today announced that it will invest approximately $270 million in an innovation center dedicated to thin-film photovoltaics R&D. The new facility, which will be in Perrysburg, Ohio, is expected to be the first of its scale in the United States.

First Solar’s new R&D center will be located near its existing manufacturing facility in Perrysburg and will cover an area of ​​approximately 1.3 million square feet. It will include a pilot manufacturing line that will be able to produce full-size prototypes of thin layers and tandem photovoltaic mods. The installation is expected to be completed in 2024.

Mark Widmar, CEO of First Solar, said:

With a record backlog and steady demand for our modules, we face the dual challenge of optimizing existing and planned production capacity to deliver on our commitments, while ensuring our technology roadmap does not lose momentum. its momentum.

This investment allows us to create an R&D sandbox separate from our commercial manufacturing operations, ensuring that we can accelerate innovation without the cost of taking critical tools offline.

First Solar is unique among the top 10 solar panel manufacturers in the world because it is the only company headquartered in the United States and the only manufacturer of thin-film photovoltaic modules.

The Tempe, Arizona-based company’s consistent and ongoing investment in the development of cadmium telluride since 1999 has made the semiconductor the second most widely used PV technology in the world after crystalline silicon.

“Cadmium telluride is very efficient at capturing sunlight and converting it into energy. It is also the least expensive type of commercial solar panel in dollars per watt. Its outdoor life is the same or a little better than mono or polycrystalline modules (more than 30 years). Its efficiency from sunlight to electricity is slightly lower than that of silicon,” Ken Zweibel, former director of the Thin Film PV Partnership at NREL (retired), explained to Electrek. [Thank you, Ken, for the clarification. – Eds.]

In August, First Solar announced it would invest up to $1.2 billion to ramp up production of US-made solar panels. The announcement follows the passage of the Curbing Inflation Act, which encourages domestic clean energy manufacturing.

Read more: America’s largest solar panel maker pledges to build a billion-dollar factory in the southeastern United States

Photo: European Commission/© substancep –

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