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First Solar, Inc. (Nasdaq: FSLR) announced that they have reduced their manufacturing cost for thin film solar modules in the fourth quarter of 2008 to 98 cents per watt, breaking the $1 per watt price barrier.
- “This achievement marks a milestone in the solar industry’s evolution toward providing truly sustainable energy solutions,” said Mike Ahearn, First Solar chief executive officer. “First Solar is proud to be leading the way toward clean, affordable electricity as a viable alternative to fossil fuels.”
A downside to the technology is that it includes cadmium, which is highly toxic. Though the company has a panel recycling program, the dangers from accidental and nature (hail) breakage are significant. See comments.
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How it Works
First Solar PV modules are manufactured on high throughput, automated lines that integrate each production step, from semiconductor deposition to final assembly and test, in one continuous process. This advanced manufacturing process transforms a piece of glass into a complete solar module in less than 2.5 hours.
- Advanced thin film design produces high energy yield across a wide range of climatic conditions with excellent low light response and temperature response coefficient
- First Solar PV modules are proven to perform as predicted with a high Performance Ratio
- First Solar monitors a significant portion of its installed modules in customer applications through independent, third-party data collection services to verify predicted energy output is realized
- Frameless laminate is robust, cost effective and recyclable. First Solar has a self-imposed recycling regimen that provides a deposited amount (<$0.05 a watt) that covers the costs of transport and recycling of the module at the end of its useful life.
Less than 98 cents USD per Watt.
- Makes cadmium-telluride solar cells in less than 2.5 hours.
Manufactured in highly automated state-of-the-art facilities certified to ISO9001:2000 quality and ISO14001:2004 environmental management standards.
Tested by leading US and European institutes and certified for reliability and safety:
- Safety Class II
- IEC 61646
- IEC 61730
- CE Mark
- UL 1703
- Photovoltaic array - Patent number: 7307209. Inventors: Donald R. Mapes, David J. Aitchison, Larry G. Crosser, James B. Foote, Benjamin L. Richie, Jr.
A photovoltaic array includes a plurality of elongated rails and rectangular photovoltaic modules. Each rail can have an extruded resin construction and can include a lower base and an upper cap that cooperate to define a pair of grooves that open in opposite directions from each other. The elongated rails can be mounted on a support surface and extend in a spaced and parallel relationship with each other. During mounting, edges of the photovoltaic modules can be received by the grooves. In this way, the photovoltaic modules can be mounted above the support surface in a spaced relationship from the support surface.
- System and method for removing film from planar substrate peripheries - Patent number: 7318769. Inventor: James Ernest Hinkle
A system for removing film from a planar substrate includes a shuttle which transports a film-coated substrate through a film removal station to a rotation station. At the rotation station, the substrate is removed from the shuttle and rotated to a new orientation. After being repositioned on the shuttle, the substrate is transported by the shuttle through a second film removal station.
Company: First Solar, Inc.
- First Solar was formed in 1999 and launched production of commercial products in 2002
- First Solar has achieved the lowest manufacturing cost per watt in the industry, $1.08/watt for the third quarter of 2008
- First Solar is the largest manufacturer of thin film solar modules, having expanded manufacturing capacity to an expected 735 MW in 2008; and with additional plants under construction, First Solar will bring total expected capacity to more than 1 GW by the end of 2009 (see chart on right)
- First Solar developed the first pre-funded module collection and recycling program in the PV industry
- First Solar’s IPO took place on November 17, 2006; Common stock is traded on the NASDAQ Stock Market under the symbol FSLR
- "In its early years First Solar suffered setbacks, and initial module efficiencies were modest, about 7%. Commercial product became available in 2002. But production did not reach 25 megawatts until 2005. The company built an additional line in Perrysburg, Ohio, then four lines in Germany, supported by the then substantial German production incentives (about 50% of capital costs). In 2006 First Solar reached 75 MW of annual production and announced a further 16 lines in Malaysia. The more recently announced lines have been operational ahead of schedule. As of 2008, First Solar is producing at nearly half a gigawatt annual rate, and in 2006 and 2007 was among the largest PV module manufacturers in the world." (Wikipedia)
In the News
- Top 100: Solar > Largest / Thin Film > First Solar >
Chinese solar plant expected to be the biggest - Arizona company, First Solar, which makes more solar cells than any other company, said it struck a tentative 10-year deal to build a 25-square mile solar plant in China's vast desert north of the Great Wall, generating 2 gigawatts of electricity -- enough to power 3 million homes. (Salt Lake Tribune; Sept. 8, 2009)
- Utility-Scale Thin-Film: Three New Plants in Germany Total Almost 50 MW - Germany is host to a range of thin-film projects that illustrate the technology’s potential, with three new large-scale thin-film PV installations recently commissioned, having a combined capacity of some 50 MW. The manufacturer? First Solar. (Renewable Energy World; March 11, 2009)
- First Solar Stumbles - First Solar, the thin-film solar panel maker considered by many to be the best name in solar stocks, can't escape the realities of the economy and credit markets. That's the message this morning after the Tempe, Ariz.-based company's earnings report, which included some generally healthy guidance tempered by some dire comments from CEO Mike Ahearn. (US News & World report; Feb. 25, 2009)
- First Solar enters U.S. residential market - "The company's solar modules, which use cadmium telluride, are not as efficient as silicon-based cells in turning sunlight into electricity." (Reuters']'; Oct. 29, 2008)
- Why does First Solar stand alone? - First Solar, which makes cadmium-telluride solar cells, is having one of those years that corporate managers and investors dream about. (CNet News; Nov. 20, 2007)
See Discussion page
Company:First Solar, Inc.
Mike Ahearn, CEO
350 West Washington Street
Tempe, Arizona 85281-1244
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