First Solar, the largest solar panel maker in the US, announced today that it will supply clean energy company National Grid Renewables with 1.6 gigawatts (GW) of solar panels – and that’s a very big deal.
Minneapolis-based National Grid Renewables is part of the Ventures division of National Grid plc, one of the world’s largest publicly listed utilities with its HQ in the UK. National Grid Renewables has a portfolio of solar, wind, and energy storage projects throughout the US in various stages of development, construction, and operation.
First Solar is supplying National Grid Renewables with its Series 7 thin-film solar modules. The up to 540-watt panels combine the company’s thin-film cadmium telluride technology with a larger form factor and have up to 19.3% efficiency and a 30-year warranty.
The Series 7 panels are designed and developed at First Solar’s factories in California and Ohio.
First Solar says that the Series 7 panels’ frameless design improves soiling and show shedding, and it also says that it offers the solar industry’s only solar cell cracking warranty.
This new 1.6 GW order expands First Solar’s supply of solar panels to National Grid Renewables to over 4 GW, as the two companies made an agreement for 2 GW of solar panels in June of this year.
National Grid Renewables and First Solar have also partnered on multiple projects over a decade, including the 200-megawatt (MW) Prairie Wolf Solar Project, in Illinois, and, in Texas, the Noble Solar (275 MW) and Storage Project (125 MW).
Last month, First Solar announced that it will invest up to $1.2 billion to ramp up production of US-made solar panels.
This may look like a typical business story – X company orders Y product from Z company – but here’s why it’s noteworthy.
First of all, that’s a LOT of solar panels. Just 1 GW of power alone is equivalent to 3.125 million solar panels, and National Grid Renewables ordered 1.6 GW.
Secondly, every time news like this is announced, it’s evidence that the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act is giving American manufacturing a major shot in the arm.
This will create even more jobs, and domestic manufacturing will also smooth out US supply chain snags. US manufacturing also means the distance the solar panels need to travel will be shorter, which means less transport emissions are created.
There’s also accountability here when it comes to ethical manufacturing, as First Solar is the only company among the 10 largest solar manufacturers globally to be a member of the Responsible Business Alliance, the world’s largest industry coalition that supports the rights and well-being of workers and communities in the global supply chain.
This agreement is yet more evidence of a major shift in US renewables manufacturing. And that never fails to be exciting.
Photo: First Solar
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