First Solar, Inc. (Nasdaq: FSLR) and the IXL Group (IXL) of companies are announcing the opening of IXL’s new structure manufacturing plant in Adelaide. The facility will enable IXL to assemble and deliver the mounting structures for First Solar’s 155 MW (AC) utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) projects at Nyngan and Broken Hill in New South Wales – Australia’s largest utility-scale solar projects to-date. The plant is expected to create approximately 40 local jobs and is evidence of First Solar’s commitment to supporting Australian manufacturers. IXL also received support from the Automotive New Markets Program (ANMP) to assist with the capital expenditure required to establish the plant. The ANMP is jointly funded by the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments, and delivered in collaboration with the South Australian Government to assist automotive suppliers to diversify their customer base and product range.
Historically, IXL’s metal stamping and roll-forming capability supplied the local automotive industry. Today, IXL has a dedicated business unit focused on producing structural components for solar projects. Located on a site of over 16,000 square metres with a building of 4000 square metres in Salisbury South in Adelaide’s northern suburbs, IXL’s new facility will produce approximately 100,000 mounting structures for the Nyngan and Broken Hill projects, using over 6000 tonnes of Australian-made steel. Production is now underway.
"As the solar industry continues to grow in Australia, there will be an increasing need and demand for a reliable and efficient local supplier base,” said Jack Curtis, First Solar’s Vice President of Business Development for Asia Pacific. “Continued utilisation of local suppliers will not only reduce the cost of delivering solar power to Australia, but it will also create local jobs, develop regional skills and support more sustainable employment. Local procurement accounts for 56.3 per cent of First Solar’s total procurement spending on the Nyngan and Broken Hill projects, with over 450 direct construction jobs expected to be created and over $66 million spent on local equipment for both projects.”
"The opening of our Adelaide manufacturing plant is another significant milestone in the development of our solar business,” said Claude Dagescy, IXL Solar’s General Manager. "As local automotive manufacturing declines, we have sought new business opportunities. Making mounting structures for First Solar has been a natural extension of our business and we believe Australian-made mounting systems can be more than competitive with imports. IXL’s ongoing work with First Solar demonstrates that.”
IXL previously provided First Solar with a cost-effective, Australian-manufactured framing capability for the 10MW Greenough River Solar Farm (GRSF) in Western Australia in 2012. At the time, it was Australia’s first and largest utility-scale solar project. Two years later, the scale and footprint of the NSW projects demonstrate that utility-scale solar is becoming a proven, bankable source of power generation in Australia today.
"Solar is increasingly being recognised as a mainstream energy source globally,” said Shellie Molina, First Solar’s Vice President of Global Supply Chain. "Today's announcement demonstrates that the renewable energy industry is a driver of investment, building economic and alternative business opportunities across Australia. The opening of the IXL manufacturing plant in Adelaide tells a positive story of job creation, the transfer and development of regional skills and sustainable industry development in Australia”.