First Solar unveils India module manufacturing facility plans

First Solar said the facility planned for Tamil Nadu was contingent on the company receiving satisfactory incentives. Image: First Solar.

First Solar has unveiled plans to construct a 3.3GWdc module assembly facility in India, bolstering its manufacturing footprint outside of the US.

The ‘Solar Module Super League’ member is to invest US$684 million in the facility, which is slated to begin operations in the second half of 2023. However, the company has stressed that final approval for the site is dependent on the approval of Indian government incentives that are “satisfactory to First Solar”.

If approved, the site would come forward in the state of Tamil Nadu and First Solar expects that it would help take the company’s total manufacturing output to 16GWdc by 2024.

Mark Widmar, chief executive at First Solar, said India was an attractive market for First Solar owing to solar deployment targets in the country and other incentives in the market.

“Crucially, it has combined its clean energy targets with effective trade and industrial policy designed to enable self-sufficient domestic manufacturing and true energy security. We also have many longstanding customers in the country that will be pleased to have access to an advanced PV module, which is made in India, for India,” Widmar said.

India has looked to ramp up domestic solar manufacturing in the country by enacting punitive tariffs on solar imports from China and incentives for manufacturers establishing new facilities in the country. A basic customs duty of 40% will be attached to module imports and a 25% duty attached to cells from April next year, while a production-linked incentive, which will see manufacturers bid for financial support for manufacturing sites, was approved in April this year.

Earlier this month India’s Minister of Power and New and Renewable Energy RK Singh told attendees at an online event that it was “unhealthy” for Chinese companies to dominate solar manufacturing, adding that it was vital for companies to establish manufacturing bases outside of China.

Widmar said that India’s actions to date meant it “stands apart in the decisiveness of its response to China’s strategy of state-subsidized global dominance” of the crystalline silicon solar industry.

First Solar confirmed the would-be facility in India would use the same manufacturing template designed for its most recently-announced manufacturing expansion, a facility of precisely the same capacity earmarked for Ohio that it announced last month.

Outside of the US, First Solar currently has manufacturing locations in Malaysia and Vietnam.