Arizona’s First Solar announced that it has come to terms on a multi-year master supply agreement with southern utility-scale solar developer, Silicon Ranch, under which First Solar will supply 4GW of advanced thin film photovoltaic modules to Silicon Ranch’s projects in the United States from 2023 to 2025.
While this is not the first supply partnership to be reached between the two companies, the level of commitment dramatically expands on their prior partnership, under which First Solar has supplied modules to over 30 projects totaling more than 1GW since 2015. The deal uses First Solar’s agile contracting approach, which means that Silicon Ranch will benefit from any advances in technology First Solar achieves prior to the first delivery of modules. The contract also includes a recycling clause, under which end-of-life CadTel modules from Silicon Ranch projects can be processed by First Solar’s recycling program, which recovers approximately 90% of CadTel material, allowing those materials to be used to manufacture new modules.
The move also likely alleviates some module sourcing stress for Silicon Ranch, as many developers have had their existing supply agreement plans turned upside-down by the Department of Commerce’s anti-circumvention investigation. In a webinar last week, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) shared preliminary survey data from more than 200 respondents across the solar industry. Within the survey 75% of respondents reported that they are already experiencing cancelled or delayed module shipments, while 11% have not yet been notified of delays, but expect them to come.
“Long-term module supply agreements with a trusted partner provide a vital hedge against the pricing and supply uncertainties that have impacted the solar industry over the past few years,” said Georges Antoun, chief commercial officer at First Solar. “And with First Solar’s agile contracting strategy, Silicon Ranch will have the added benefit of access to our best-in-class PV technologies as they continue to evolve.”
Silicon Ranch isn’t the only company turning to First Solar to shore up their supply. Just yesterday, Origis Energy placed an order for 750MW of First Solar’s modules.
First Solar is investing $680 million in expanding America’s domestic solar manufacturing capacity by 3.3GW annually, by building its third US manufacturing facility, in Lake Township, Ohio. The new facility is expected to be commissioned in the first half of 2023 and when fully operational will bring the company’s Northwest Ohio footprint to a total annual capacity of 6GW.
In addition to its Ohio manufacturing facilities, First Solar also operates factories in Vietnam and Malaysia, and is building a new 3.3GW factory in India that is expected to be commissioned in the second half of 2023. With First Solar’s expansion in the United States and India and optimization of its existing fleet, the First Solar anticipate that its manufacturing capacity will double to 16GW by 2024.
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