First Solar, Inc. announced that its responsibly-produced photovoltaic (PV) solar module technology would power 17 percent of the annual energy needs of Nevada Gold Mines (NGM), the single largest gold-producing complex in the world. NGM is a joint venture between Barrick Gold Corporation (NYSE: GOLD) (TSX:ABX) and Newmont Corporation (NYSE: NEM) that is operated by Barrick.
NGM, which produces approximately 3.5 million ounces of gold a year, is investing in building a solar power plant as part of a broader effort to decarbonize its operations and minimize its environmental footprint. As part of the deal, which was booked prior to the release of First Solar’s Q4 and Full Year 2021 earnings in February, 260 megawatts (MW)DC of solar modules manufactured by First Solar in Ohio will be deployed to power the new 200 MWAC facility in the second quarter of 2023.
NGM has a strong focus on environmental management practices and is a committed custodian of the unique lands, waters, flora, and fauna within the state of Nevada. Barrick has committed to a 30 percent greenhouse gas reduction by 2030, with the goal of net-zero operations by 2050. NGM will support Barrick’s targets and has set an intermediate goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2025, compared to its 2018 baseline. This is expected to be achieved by the solar power plant and conversion of NGM’s coal fired power plant to cleaner burning natural gas.
“When we selected our solar module technology partner, we did so with very careful consideration. We made the choice to contract with a supplier who shares our values, including a commitment to fair labor practices and investment in American manufacturing and American jobs. By partnering with First Solar we also found an innovator that can deliver high performance solar panels with the lowest carbon footprint and the best environmental profile available today,” said Greg Walker, NGM executive managing director. “At NGM, we believe that our corporate social responsibility and the profitability of our business go hand in hand. While minimizing the environmental impacts of our operations — we bring sustainable long-term social and economic benefits to Nevada.”
Designed and developed at its research and development (R&D) centers in California and Ohio, First Solar’s responsibly produced advanced thin film PV modules set industry benchmarks for quality, durability, reliability, design, and environmental performance. First Solar also operates an advanced recycling program that recovers more than 90 percent of CadTel for use in new modules.
“As America’s solar company, we’re proud to support Nevada Gold Mines with responsible solar technology designed and developed right here in the United States,” said Georges Antoun, chief commercial officer, First Solar. “NGM is part of a growing wave of customers that are unwilling to compromise on quality or their principles, and choose to partner with First Solar. They partnered with us because we can deliver a high-performance module that comes without the social, environmental, and political risks that are, unfortunately, associated with too many solar manufacturers today.”
First Solar is investing $680 million in expanding America’s domestic PV solar manufacturing capacity by 3.3 GW annually, by building its third US manufacturing facility, in Lake Township, Ohio. The new facility is expected to be commissioned in the first half of 2023 and when fully operational will scale the company’s Northwest Ohio footprint to a total annual capacity of 6 GW, which is believed to make it the largest fully vertically integrated solar manufacturing complex outside of China. First Solar has invested over $2 billion in its US manufacturing footprint and, when its third factory is fully operational, will directly employ over 2,500 people in Ohio, while supporting an estimated 7,000 indirect jobs through its American supply chain.
In addition to its Ohio manufacturing facilities, First Solar also operates factories in Vietnam and Malaysia, and is building a new 3.3 GW factory in India that is expected to be commissioned in the second half of 2023. With First Solar’s expansion in the United States and India and optimization of its existing fleet, the company anticipates that its nameplate manufacturing capacity will double to 16 GW by 2024.