By William Thornton 

Arizona-based First Solar today announced plans to build a $1.1 billion plant in Lawrence County, creating more than 700 jobs.

The factory, which will make photovoltaic (PV) solar modules, will be situated in Mallard Fox West Industrial Complex and should be running by 2025.

First Solar is the only U.S.-headquartered solar manufacturer among the world’s 10 largest that is not manufacturing in China.

“This facility, along with its sister factories in Ohio, will form part of the industrial foundation that helps ensure this transition is powered by American innovation and ingenuity,” First Solar CEO Mark Widmar said.

Gov. Kay Ivey said the project should have a major economic impact for the state.

“First Solar is a world-class manufacturer, and its solar modules are poised to play an increasingly important role in U.S. energy self-sufficiency,” Ivey said.

The fully vertically integrated facility in Alabama will join three First Solar factories in Ohio, including one that will come online in the first half of 2023. The company believes it will have about 3,000 people on the payroll in four states by 2025, making it the largest U.S. solar manufacturing employer.

“As it works to develop the next generation of solar technologies, First Solar represents the kind of innovative, technology-forward company that can help power Alabama’s economy into the future,” Alabama Department of Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield said.