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Daily Shorts: Ford pivots to hybrids, First Solar announces $1.1 bn factory in US and more

US authorities estimate the rebates will support 50,000 jobs. Image: Unsplash

Ford is pivoting to hybrids. CEO Jim Farley outlined a strategy under which the company will slow down its shift to electric vehicles and focus more on selling hybrids which run on petrol and electric batteries. The company, which has agreed to shift to Tesla's NACS charging connector, said it would aim to grow hybrid sales four-fold over the next five years. It also pushed back its annual EV production target of 600,000 vehicles to 2024 from this year.

First Solar Inc will spend $1.1 billion setting up a 3.5 gigawatt (GW) solar panel factory in the US, the company announced. The location hasn't been finalized, but manufacturing will begin in 2026. This will be First Solar's fifth factory globally and third in the US, taking total US production capacity to 14 GW. The company says it has an order backlog of 78 GW. Demand for First Solar panels has been boosted by the fact that its technology does not rely on China-made polysilicon like other manufacturers.

Portuguese solar project company Prosolia Energy announced it had raised $275 million from US-based fund EIG to fund ongoing and new projects and expand to newer countries. Prosolia, which mainly focuses on industrial projects for self-consumption and large-scale generation for sale, has 2.85 GW under development across Spain, Portugal, France and Italy. It aims to reach 2 GW of operational capacity in 2026 and has so far completed 40 MW.

The US Department of Energy has begun accepting applications for $8.5 billion in rebate programs that will fund energy efficiency upgrades in US homes. US states can apply for the funds, which can then be claimed by consumers who deploy insulation, heat pumps, and energy-efficient appliances in their homes. Separately, US regulators have speeded up the process of connecting new power projects to the grid. Authorities say more than 2,000 GW of renewable power – almost twice the current generation capacity – is awaiting approval.

Lordstown Motors, which filed for bankruptcy in June, must first undergo trial over claims its vehicles use stolen technology, a US court has ruled. Karma Automotive, based in California, sued Ohio-based Lordstown in 2020 alleging the company poached its employees and stole its technology. Karma said it was pleased with the ruling and had "overwhelming evidence" that Lordstown's Endurance pickup truck EV was developed using proprietary Karma technology.

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