First Solar uses American glass exclusively in its US-made solar panels, supporting thousands of jobs in an industry impacted by China’s state-subsidized domination of vital supply chains.
The glass used in First Solar’s panels starts as raw silica mined in Michigan and soda ash from Wyoming, before being transformed into high quality float glass with a Transparent Conductive Oxide (TCO), by NSG in Luckey, Ohio.
The NSG facility in Luckey is one of three float glass lines located in Ohio and Illinois that currently supply First Solar, while a fourth, also located in Ohio, and a fifth located in Pennsylvania, will come online by 2025 to support the company’s growing manufacturing footprint.
By 2025, First Solar will consume the glass produced by five of the 34 operational float glass lines in the US, accounting for approximately 15% of the country’s annual float glass production.
"I run a bore crew, which means we are cutting new sections of the mine. We're mining trona. It goes in a lot of things - chemicals, windshields, salts, glass."
JD Fackrell | Production Foreman | Tata Chemicals Soda Ash Partners, Wyoming
In Michigan, U.S. Silica mines for high-quality, ultra-low iron silica sand, which is used to produce the glass that is used by First Solar to manufacture solar panels. First Solar’s growth is driving greater silica sand demand and adding jobs at the facility.
"In this job, I do so much of everything. No day is the same. I receive the parts, write purchase orders and pay all the bills. I'm good at being in the support role. I don't have to be in charge. I like being in the middle and having my chaos nice and organized.
I’m a single mother, and this job is just right. I'm stable. I have to leave early today to watch my son be awarded student of the month. He doesn't know, so I'm very excited."
Tobi Wallace | Maintenance Scheduler & Warehouse Coordinator | U.S. Silica, Rockwood, MI
Workers at the NSG Glass North America facility in Luckey, Ohio, use a tin float where 1000°C molten glass is poured continuously from a furnace onto a shallow bath of molten tin to produce float glass. Built to support First Solar’s growing footprint, the Luckey facility was NSG Group's first new float glass facility to be commissioned in the US in four decades. It is located about 12 miles from First Solar’s Ohio campus.
"I worked at a hamburger factory for 15 years before here. Now I check the glass for defects and imperfections before we send it to First Solar."
Joni Sharma | Quality Technician
NSG Group Sheet Glass Facility, Luckey, Ohio