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First Solar to Boom to 2.7 GW by 2012

While thin film solar startups like Nanosolar and Miasole have 1 GW solar production plans in their cross hairs, thin film solar behemoth First Solar (s FSLR) keeps raising the stakes on production. This morning the industry darling announced that it will boost capacity to a whopping 2.7 GW by 2012, by building two new factories, one in the U.S. and one in Vietnam. That’s double its current annual production of 1.4 GW.

First Solar says each new plant will create 600 jobs, and that the actual locations will be announced in the future. First Solar already has factories in Malaysia, Germany, France, and in the U.S. in Perrysburg, Ohio.

With more and more factories, First Solar can hopefully continue to benefit from economies of scale. The company already has pretty much the cheapest thin film solar production costs around at 78 cents per watt, as of the second quarter. Startups like Nanosolar and Miasole are eventually hoping to beat that price over many years as they ramp up production.

In the grand solar scheme, 2.7 GW is a milestone. Production of the most advanced and lowest cost solar photovoltaics on the market continues to grow, and First Solar will continue to be a leader for quite some time.

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