Akuo, a Paris-headquartered global renewable energy producer and developer, placed an order for 500 MW of First Solar thin film solar modules. Under the agreement, First Solar will supply 200 MW for a utility-scale project developed by Akuo in the United States, with delivery scheduled for the first half of 2024. The remaining modules are expected to be delivered in 2025 and 2026, potentially for projects in Europe or other regions.
As a renewable energy developer, Akuo has a presence in 15 countries, including the United States, Spain, Greece, and Portugal. At the end of 2021, Akuo had 1.4 GW of assets in operation or under construction and a project development pipeline of over 7 GW. The agreement with First Solar leverages First Solar’s agile contracting approach, allowing Akuo to benefit from the evolution of First Solar’s advanced cadmium telluride (CdTe) thin film module technology platform over the span of the agreement.
“The solar industry operates against a backdrop of volatility and uncertainty, and this agreement is part of a broader effort to reduce the long-term supply risks of our global portfolio to actually deliver our projects,” said Eric Scotto, chief executive officer of Akuo. “First Solar’s ability to provide supply chain traceability and its commitment to responsible manufacturing was crucial to us. It leads the industry with its long history of establishing benchmarks in supply chain transparency and the low environmental footprint of its technology, all of which reflects our shared value of responsible business practices. As a European player, we are strongly committed to these values echoing our ambition for the planet.”
Last August, First Solar broke ground on its third manufacturing facility in Ohio. The new 3.3 GW facility is scheduled to start operations in the first half of 2023 and represents a $680 million investment. When it is fully operational, the facility is expected to scale the company’s northwestern Ohio footprint to a total annual capacity of 6 GW, which would make it the largest fully vertically integrated solar manufacturing complex outside of China.
A recent report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) calls for diversifying the global supply chain in order to meet climate goals. One of the downsides in using solar products manufactured in China has been the amount of carbon used to produce products for use in generating clean energy. And for installations outside of China, transportation adds to the cost and total emissions. The report also points to supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and Russian’s invasion of Ukraine, and recommends that countries increase resilience by making the investments needed to boost domestic manufacturing. The IEA report estimates that new solar manufacturing facilities along the supply chain could attract $120 billion in investment by 2030. In addition to its Ohio manufacturing facilities, First Solar also operates factories in Vietnam and Malaysia, and is building a new 3.3 GW factory in India that is expected to be commissioned in the second half of 2023.
“We’re pleased to welcome Akuo to a growing number of long-term strategic partnerships with experienced global developers that have placed their trust in First Solar and our technology,” said Georges Antoun, chief commercial officer, First Solar. “Developers in Europe are recognizing the risks associated with having a geographically concentrated solar supply chain and are electing to take a long-term approach to supply diversity and security by working with us. Our differentiation rests as much on our ability to help our customers navigate volatility and uncertainty as our technology.”
First Solar recently announced other large orders from solar developers including a 2 GW order from National Grid, a 4 GW order from Silicon Ranch, a 1.5 GW order from SoftBank subsidiary SB Energy Global, and a commitment from Lightsource bp and bp to procure 5.4 GW.
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