First Solar adding 120 manufacturing staff at its Ohio fab


According to reporting from Ohio’s The Blade newspaper, First Solar is looking to hire 120 manufacturing employees at its U.S. fab, in Perrysburg, Ohio. Two new lines are being installed at the facility, using existing First Solar tools. The fab currently employs 1,100 workers across four existing lines. The lines are expected to be operational by mid 2015.

The new lines at the Ohio facility will produce First Solar’s FS Series 3 and FS Series 4 modules, the latter of which features efficiency boosting anti-reflective coating. The modules produced in Ohio will likely be used in North America projects.

In its Q3 earnings call, First Solar CEO Jim Hughes highlighted the company’s latest U.S. projects, which include the 40 MW Elm City project and the 65 MW Warsaw Solar project, both in North Carolina for Duke Energy.

On the back of this and recent project wins in Chile, the UK in partnership with German EPC Belectric, Israel and India, First Solar is embarking on a rapid manufacturing output increase. In its Q3 financials it announced that it intended to do so by up to 46% in 2015. The Arizona based company is restarting lines worth 360 MW of capacity at its Kulim, Malaysia fab and is expanding its Ohio operations using tools shipped, presumably, from its former facilities in Frankfurt (Oder), in Germany’s east.

In its Q3 earnings call, CEO Hughes said that its Q4 average conversion efficiency should be 14.4%, slightly lower than the 14.9% it had targeted, due to a delayed roll out of its FS Series 4 modules.