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3 November 2008


First Solar more than doubles revenue and income year-on-year

For third-quarter 2008, First Solar Inc of Tempe, AZ, USA, which makes thin-film photovoltaic modules based on cadmium telluride (CdTe), has reported revenue of $348.7m, up 31% on $267m last quarter and more than double $159m a year ago.

Despite operating expenses almost doubling from $33.7m a year ago to $65.3m, net income has more than doubled from $46m a year ago (which included a one-time income tax benefit of $7.5m) and $69.7m last quarter to $99.3m.

First Solar has also announced a five-year agreement to supply 100MW of its thin-film solar modules to residential solar installer SolarCity Corp of Foster City, CA, USA, marking First Solar’s entrance into the US residential segment. The firm will begin delivering modules to SolarCity in first-quarter 2009.

First Solar is also making a $25m equity investment in SolarCity - part of a $30m round of financing that will fund SolarCity’s continued US expansion - with the aim of making solar power an affordable option for more US homeowners and businesses.

SolarCity currently serves more than 300 communities California, Arizona, and Oregon, but plans to expand into additional states. The firm says that its SolarLease financing option allows homeowners to switch to solar power for less money than they currently pay for electricity, without the need for a large upfront investment.

First Solar’s modules enable SolarCity to serve residential and small commercial markets where solar was not previously an affordable option, the firms claim. “The combination of First Solar’s modules with SolarCity’s innovative approach to designing, financing and maintaining complete solar solutions enables homeowners and small business owners to lower their electricity costs while reducing air pollution and the effects of global warming,” says First Solar's CEO Mike Ahearn. “Our relationship with First Solar will enable us to deliver affordable solar power to a wider market of residential and small commercial customers,” adds SolarCity’s CEO Lyndon Rive.

First Solar also says that it has entered into new long-term module supply agreements with utility company Sorgenia Solar, a developer of large-scale, grid-connected solar power plants in Italy (and the biggest Italian operator in terms of installed photovoltaic power). With strong market growth in Italy, Sorgenia Solar is well positioned to develop solar power plants in such an important region, says Ahearn.

In addition, First Solar has extended module supply agreements with several existing customers including EDF Energies Nouvelles, Ecostream, Juwi and Phoenix Solar AG.

The new agreements with Sorgenia are structured on terms similar to First Solar’s existing long-term module supply agreements, and expand its contracted module volume by a total of 525MW, allowing for additional sales of about $800m over 2009-2013.

“These new module supply agreements and contract extensions enable our partners to increase solar electric generation in multiple markets throughout Europe, and demonstrate the successful partnerships First Solar has established with the world's leading project developers and system integrators,” says Ahearn.

See related items:

First Solar breaks ground on Ohio CdTe PV expansion

First Solar to expand manufacturing and development facilities in Ohio

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

First Solar announces two solar projects with Southern California Edison

See article: CdTe PV progresses to mass production

Search: First Solar Thin-film photovoltaic modules CdTe