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8 August 2008


First Solar grows 36% in Q2 and inaugurates first of four Malaysian plants

First Solar Inc of Tempe, AZ, USA, which manufactures thin-film photovoltaic modules based on cadmium telluride (CdTe), has reported fiscal Q2/2008 (ended 28 June) revenues of $267m, up 36% on Q1/2008’s $196.9m and up 246% on Q2/2007’s $77.2m.

Net income was $69.7m, an increase on Q1/2008's $46.6m and Q2/2007’s $44.4m (which included a one-time income tax benefit of $39.2m from the reversal of valuation allowances against previously established US deferred income tax assets).

At the end of July, First Solar announced that the first of its four solar module manufacturing plants being constructed at the Kulim Hi Tech Park in Kedah, Malaysia had been formally inaugurated by YAB Dato’ Seri Ustaz Azizan Bin Abdul Razak, chief minister of Kedah Darul Aman, along with First Solar’s president Bruce Sohn.

“Our expansion into Asia enables us to achieve cost reductions through economies of scale in a high-quality manufacturing environment,” says Sohn. “Our new manufacturing facilities in Kedah will play a vital role in helping the company achieve our stated goals and objectives.”

“Our entire work force is Malaysian at all levels throughout the operation," adds First Solar Malaysia’s plant manager Tan Poh Beng. "And we all receive the same specialized training and opportunities that First Solar associates enjoy throughout our global organization."  

It is reckoned that the firm’s investment of $680m (RM2.2bn) will create more than 2000 jobs in management, engineering, accounting, human resources and factory operations when all four plants are fully operational. The
Malaysian Government has granted First Solar a multi-year income tax holiday, and the Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (MIDA) is supporting cross training for the workforce at First Solar’s facilities in the USA and Germany.

First Solar expects to ship 420-460MW of PV modules in 2008. When complete during second-half 2009, the four plants that comprise First Solar’s Malaysia facilities will have a combined annual capacity to produce 720MW of
solar modules and provide a significant contribution to the firm’s annual capacity goal of 1GW.

First Solar is also building a turnkey 10MW photovoltaic (PV) power plant near Boulder City, NV for Sempra Generation, and providing monitoring and maintenance services over the plant’s lifetime. Sempra will be the developer for the project, and will own and operate the plant. Construction began in July, targeting completion by the end of 2008.

“This new solar project is another step in Sempra Generation’s long-range plan to emerge as a leading renewable-energy developer,” says the firm’s president and CEO Michael W. Allman. “The combination of Sempra Generation’s experience in developing power-generation projects in the region with First Solar’s expertise in advanced, thin-film photovoltaic solutions is a natural fit,” he reckons.

See related item:

First Solar announces two solar projects with Southern California Edison

Thin film to take 28% of PV market by 2012

Thin-film solar market to reach 9GW in 2012

First Solar adds fourth CdTe PV plant in Malaysia following new long-term module supply agreements

First Solar adds third CdTe PV plant to Malaysia expansion

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