The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has more than 550 unique, active partners. One such partner is First Solar Inc.—a relationship that dates back to the early 1990s. NREL and First Solar, then called Solar Cells Inc., have been collaboratively breaking ground on thin-film solar technology for more than two decades, helping NREL fulfill its goal as a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratory of commercializing technology through partnerships and contributing to First Solar’s success in development, manufacturing, and operation of photovoltaic (PV) power plants with technology that still bucks industry trends.
In early July, First Solar made headlines when it announced its intention to construct a $680 million solar panel manufacturing factory in Ohio, bringing with it an estimated 500 jobs. The announcement came just seven months into the inaugural year of the Biden administration, whose intersecting priorities to “build a modern, sustainable infrastructure and an equitable clean energy future” and “ensure the future is ‘made in all of America’ by all of America’s workers” have been well supported by Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm.