It’s a sign of the times: the site of a former General Motors vehicle testing facility will soon house a manufacturing plant dedicated tomaking clean-energy-producing solar panels.
First Solar, the Tempe, Arizona-based maker of advanced thin-film solar modules, today announced it will build a its new U.S. manufacturing plant in Mesa, Arizona. Thecompany will invest about $300 million in the facility and, in so doing, create some 600 jobs.
First Solar President, Bruce Sohn, took care to acknowledge thatgovernment incentives have played a key role in promoting growth in therenewable energy sector:
“Supportive state and federal policies have provided thevisibility needed for the U.S. to become our fastest-growing market, and the Mesa factory will enable us to meet that growing demand. Programssuch as Department of Energy loan guarantees and the solar investmenttax credit are crucial to helping the renewable energy industry quicklyreach the scale needed to compete with fossil fuels. Over the long-term, programs like these facilitate the market growth and investment thatwill support the future expansion of this factory.”
First Solar is looked to as a price leader, and has long had theindustry’s lowest per-watt manufacturing cost. An influx of cheaplyproduced polysilicon-based panels — mainly from China — is howeverchallenging First Solar’s claim to the top spot. The company recentlyexpanded production at its solar panel manufacturing plant inPerrysburg, Ohio. When the Mesa plant comes on line in 2012, output isexpected to increase to over 500 megawatts (MW) a year.
First Solar’s CEO Rob Gillette (left) and President Bruce Sohn (second from left) announce the company’s new plant in Mesa, Ariz., with Governor Jan Brewer and other government officials.
Arizona Governor, Jan Brewer, has in recent years worked to attractclean-energy companies — particularly solar-panel manufacturers — to the state. In her remarks today, she echoed Sohn’s sentiments, highlighting supportive programs Arizona has enacted at the state level.
“First Solar’s presence in Arizona has been a greatengine in driving our renewable energy sector forward. And now its plans for a 135-acre technology campus — with 600 quality jobs and thepotential for hundreds more — will propel Arizona into its secondcentury, while promoting the Arizona Commerce Authority’s plan forbusiness attraction, retention and expansion. We are grateful that First Solar’s leadership has confidence in my Cornerstones of Reform —including the Arizona Competitiveness Package.”
For more information, see First Solar’s website.
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