A $1.1 billion solar panel manufacturing facility broke ground last week in Iberia Parish. The facility, First Solar’s fifth fully vertically integrated factory of its kind in the U.S., is believed to be the largest capital investment in the area’s history, according to an announcement. It is expected to start commercial shipments of photovoltaic solar panels by the first half of 2026.
First Solar’s facility is expected to create over 700 new direct manufacturing jobs in the state, as well as 500 contracted construction jobs through the firm Rudolph Libbe.
First Solar, one of the largest employers in America’s solar manufacturing sector, employs 2,500 employees across the country and expects to have over 4,000 direct employees by 2026. In addition to the Louisiana facility, First Solar has also invested $4.1 billion in other manufacturing facilities in Ohio and Alabama, as well as a facility in India opening later this year.
When completed, the Iberia Parish facility is expected to cover over two million square feet, as well as produce more than one dozen solar panels every minute.
The project’s groundbreaking comes at a flashpoint of growth for the state’s solar industry. According to the Louisiana Illuminator, Louisiana’s solar energy sector is ranked 38th in the nation in size, but is expected to improve its rank to 19th over the next five years.
The Solar Energy Industry Association projects Louisiana will add more than 3,000 megawatts of generating capacity during this time. Louisiana currently has a solar power generating capacity of roughly 311 megawatts, compared to virtually zero a decade ago, coinciding with national trends that saw production increase 15-fold over the last decade. Read more.