Producer of CdTe thin-film PV solar modules, First Solar, Inc. (Nasdaq:FSLR) announced its financial results for the third quarter ended September 29, 2007. Quarterly revenues were $159.0 million, up from $77.2 million in the second quarter of fiscal 2007 and up from $40.8 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2006. Net income for the three months ended Sept. 30 rose about ten times to $46 million, or 58 cents a share, from an adjusted year-ago profit of $4.3 million, or 6 cents a share.
Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial forecast earnings of 19 cents a share and revenue of $120 million, on average.
Based on these results First Solar rallied 34% on Thursday to a new closing high of 230 after increasing from about $125 to $150 in the month of October, but retreated to $207 on Friday.
This is real evidence that Wall Street is taking Solar seriously. Their manufacturing capacity for a non-silicon solar cell producer must be among the highest, if not the highest. Thin-film technology is where the action is going to be. See Nanomarkets Reports on TFPV for another opinion.
Additionally it announced that it has entered into new long term module supply agreements with a subsidiary of international investment and funds and asset manager Babcock & Brown, and Ecostream Switzerland GmbH, a subsidiary of Econcern BV.The new agreements expand contracted module volume by a total of 557MW, allowing for additional sales of approximately $1 billion at an assumed exchange rate of $1.30/E1.00 over the period of 2008 to 2012.
To meet the demand expected from the sales contracts, First Solar's board of directors approved, on Nov 5, the construction of a fourth manufacturing plant in Malaysia with four production lines with an annual nameplate production capacity of 120 Megawatts, bringing the total number of production lines to 16 for the Malaysian Manufacturing Center. The new plant is scheduled to start production in the second half of 2009 and will be built adjacent to the three previously announced plants currently under construction in Malaysia.
First Solar operates manufacturing plants in the U.S. and Germany with total annual nameplate production capacity of 210MW and is currently constructing three additional manufacturing plants in Malaysia with total annual nameplate production capacity of 360MW. Apparently this newest announcement is in addition to the 120MW announced on Sept 27. This expansion will bring the company's total annual nameplate production capacity to 690MW upon completion of all announced projects by the end of 2009.
The following is taken from First Solar's website regarding their technology:
While the theoretical benefits of CdTe and other thin film technologies have long been recognized, First Solar’s successful scale up demonstrates the actual production of high performance CdTe modules in volume, transitioning the technology from the “development” to “growth” phase. Multiple years of field data are now available to demonstrate First Solar’s efficiencies, high energy yields and excellent system performance ratios. CdTe module production facilities are today, even at the early stages of commercial production, achieving levels that required many years of production experience to achieve with traditional technology. Repeatable production processes have been fully demonstrated, enabling large scale expansion of CdTe module production.
- CdTe is uniquely capable of producing low cost solar modules, making widespread, cost-effective solar electricity a reality. Its physical properties are optimal for converting sunlight into electricity, resulting in highly efficient photovoltaics with thin (< 3 micron) semiconductor layers. CdTe is a robust material with the demonstrated capacity for high volume, low cost production.
- CdTe is a semiconductor made by transforming cadmium and tellurium from their elemental forms into a stable semiconductor. The cadmium in First Solar's CdTe is derived from zinc smelting waste. The “up-cycling” of cadmium into safe, cost effective solar electricity not only reduces the toxic effects of fossil fuel generation but prevents potentially dangerous elemental cadmium from entering the environment.
These attributes have lead the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado to recognize CdTe’s potential for achieving the lowest production costs among current thin film technologies. (Photon International, November 2004, page 50). CdTe module costs well below $1.00/Wp have been predicted by NREL and others.