First Solar Puts Up $680 Million for Massive Ohio Plant

Sign up for insightful business news.

The Rust Belt is starting to look more like the Sun Belt. America’s biggest solar panel manufacturer said Wednesday that it’s investing $680 million in a new Ohio factory to open near Toledo in 2023.

It will be First Solar’s third plant in the state, and represents a huge bet that the U.S. can slice into China’s dominance in the sector.

Ohio’s Moment In The Sun

The new plant will immediately take a large share of the U.S. solar market, generating 3 gigawatts worth of panels annually, or enough to power 570,000 homes. By 2025, First Solar’s three Ohio plants are expected to produce half of all American-made solar panels, totaling 6 gigawatts of power every year.

But all that remains a drop in the bucket compared to Chinese companies, which have dominated the industry for a decade thanks to massive state subsidies:

  • Imports currently maintain an 85% share of the U.S. solar panel market, according to consulting firm Wood Mackenzie.
  • Even after First Solar builds the latest Ohio factory, it will still import 40% of its panels from plants in Vietnam and Malaysia.

D.C. Backing: Washington, meanwhile, has set the stage for a massive boost to the U.S. solar industry in the coming years, and with rare bipartisan harmony. There is particularly a shared concern that much of China’s production is carried out in its Xinjiang province, where the Chinese government is holding over one million members of a Muslim minority group in internment camps.

“The two economies are going to decouple,” said Republican Senator Rick Scott bluntly. He put forward a bill in March that would ban U.S. government purchases of Chinese solar panels.

Panel-American: President Biden, who wants the U.S. electric grid carbon-free by 2035, has also suggested the federal government shop for equipment made in America.

Investing in the Gateway Cities to the American Dream

Demand destruction is a fallacy. Demand hasn’t evaporated, it has simply transformed.
Read More
Deep Dives more
(Photo by Adolfo Félix via Unsplash)

New Jersey’s Labor Mismatch is a Cautionary Tale for Rest of the US

Online Luxury Shopping Just Isn’t Cool Anymore

Recent News

Visa’s Blockchain Efforts Could Give The Tech Better Reputation

Big Tobacco’s Big Problem: The US Isn’t Lighting Up

Google’s Liveliness Detectors Aims to Combat Deepfakes

Washington Wants More Rules, Bankers Have Concerns