First Solar, Inc., Tempe, Ariz., announced plans to build a new solar module manufacturing facility near its existing Perrysburg, Ohio, flagship plant. The 1.2 gigawatt factory is expected to create 500 new jobs, and will produce the company’s Series 6 thin film photovoltaic (PV) module.

The expansion plan calls for a 1-million-square foot facility in Lake Township, Ohio, with construction expected to begin in mid-2018 and entering full production mode in late 2019.

First Solar’s annualized U.S. manufacturing capacity for thin film PV solar modules will total 1.8 GW.

“Strong demand in the U.S. for advanced solar technology, along with recent changes in U.S. corporate tax policies, have encouraged our decision to grow First Solar’s U.S. production operations,” says Mike Koralewski, senior vice president of global manufacturing. “State and local officials and Jobs Ohio have also worked with us to create a business-friendly environment that supported our objectives. These factors, combined with our own economies of scale in high-tech manufacturing, make expanding U.S. operations an attractive win-win opportunity.”

“Expanding our U.S. manufacturing is particularly exciting,” says Tymen de Jong, chief operating officer.  “We originated in Ohio, and we’re proud to build on that history as we grow into the future.”

In 2017, the company invested $175 million into re-tooling the original Perrysburg plant for production of its new Series 6 product. This April, the facility re-started an idled Series 4 production line to meet continued demand for that product.