First Solar Inc. plans to open a $270 million research and development center in Ohio as the country’s biggest panel maker ramps up US production in response to federal climate change legislation.
The center in Perrysburg, Ohio is expected to open in 2024 and will feature a manufacturing line for making prototypes of solar modules. First Solar has been doing research and development out of its factory in the same city, near Toledo, but such work requires taking the facility’s manufacturing line out of commercial production.
“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 mission-critical tools offline,” Chief Executive Officer Mark Widmar said Thursday in a statement.
First Solar, based in Tempe, Arizona, announced two months ago that it would increase domestic production of its thin-film solar modules, following passage of the climate-friendly Inflation Reduction Act, which includes incentives for manufacturing technologies tied to solar power, batteries and electric vehicles. The new facility will expand the company’s footprint in a key political swing state that has increasingly voted Republican.
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