American solar panels manufacturer First Solar has broken ground on its previously announced $1.1bn photovoltaic (PV) solar modules manufacturing facility in Louisiana, US.

The company’s fifth fully vertically integrated US plant is projected to expand its nameplate manufacturing capacity by 3.5GW. It will take the overall capacity of the company to about 14GW in the US and globally to 25GW in 2026.

First Solar CEO Mark Widmar said: “This facility, like its sister facilities in Ohio and Alabama, represents First Solar’s investment in our country’s future. We are creating enduring value for the US by building a robust solar manufacturing base and the value chains that enable it.

“This delivers jobs and economic value today, and establishes the foundations needed for the country to enter the next decade with a secure supply of solar energy technology.”

Being developed at Iberia Paris, the new solar modules facility is anticipated to commence commercial shipments by the first half of 2026.

It is designed to transform a sheet of glass into a ready-to-ship Series 7 module in about 4.5 hours. This will enable the plant to generate more than one dozen new Louisiana-made solar panels per minute.

Once completed, the Louisiana PV solar modules manufacturing facility will cover more than two million ft2.

Besides, First Solar’s new facility will generate more than 700 new direct manufacturing jobs in the state.

Louisiana Governor John Edwards said: “This is a historic day for Iberia Parish and Louisiana as we celebrate this record-breaking investment and the hundreds of good-paying jobs it will create.

“First Solar choosing our state for its newest solar panel production facility solidifies Louisiana’s place as a leader in the global energy transition.”

The company revealed plans to set up the fifth US PV solar modules manufacturing facility in July this year.