First Solar inks 10.1 GW of sales across four deals

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First Solar, a provider of U.S.-made thin-film solar modules, is having a banner week, booking multiple GW master supply deals out into 2028. The Ohio-based manufacturer announced 10.1 GW of module sales across four deals with leading developers in the utility-scale space, finding buyers for as much as 22 million solar panels in a matter of a few days. 

The orders are for First Solar Series 6, Series 6 Plus, and Series 7 module lines, made with cadmium telluride thin-film technology, a technology that has a lower carbon intensity to manufacture than traditional polysilicon solar cells. 

First Solar Series 7 module.
Image: First Solar

Image: First Solar

First Solar’s Series 7 modules build on the company’s thin-film cadmium telluride technology with a larger form factor and a new back rail mounting system to deliver increased efficiency, faster installations, and improved lifetime performance. 

Silicon Ranch, a Nashville-based independent power producer, has procured 1.5 GW of advanced U.S.-made thin film solar modules from First Solar, Inc. The deal expands upon the master supply agreement between the two solar businesses that includes a 4 GW transaction announced in April 2022 and, more recently, a 700 MW commitment announced in October 2022, bringing the total supply agreement between the two to 6.2 GW. 

Lightsource bp has signed on to purchase 4 GW of the U.S.-made thin-film modules. Delivery is expected to take place between 2026 and 2028. The order adds on to a 4.3 GW purchase made in 2021, bringing the total supply relationship to 8.3 GW. 

Kansas City, Mo.-based based Savion LLC announced a purchase of 2.6 GW of Series 7 modules. Delivery is pegged for 2025 to 2027. The order is expected to support Savion’s growing pipeline of over 23 GW. The company said it is transitioning to an Independent Power Producer model.

Origis Energy, headquartered in Miami, ordered 2 GW of modules to be delivered in 2026 and 2027. The agreement adds to previous orders and caps a five-year collaboration with 3.4 GW of capacity planned through 2027.

Supply chain transparency and integrity is integral to both parties, said Origis. The developer has signed the Solar Industry Forced Labor Prevention Pledge led by the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) to comply with standards on forced labor prevention.

First Solar is the only company among the ten largest global solar module manufacturers to be a member of the Responsible Business Alliance (RBA), the world’s largest industry coalition dedicated to supporting the rights and well-being of workers and communities in the global supply chain.

The module producer’s $1.1 billion Alabama factory and $185 million expansion of its existing facilities in Ohio are expected to bring its total investment in American manufacturing to over $4 billion. The company’s annual U.S. nameplate manufacturing capacity is forecast to expand to 10.6 GW by 2026. It expects to add at least 850 new manufacturing jobs and over 100 new R&D jobs, taking its total number of direct jobs in the US to over 3,000 people in four states by 2025.

Earnings Highlights

Tempe, Arizona-based First Solar (Nasdaq:FSLR) generated $1 billion of revenue in Q4 2022, representing a 10% increase from $900 million in revenue from Q4 2021, as the solar module producer ended 2022 with a surge of 48.3 GW (DC) of net booking, representing a 2.76x increase over 17.5 GW (DC) net bookings in 2021.

“This momentum is driven by our points of differentiation, including our unique CdTe (Cadmium telluride) technology, vertically integrated manufacturing process, domestic production, and commitment to responsible solar,” said Mark Widmer, chief executive officer. “We enter this year in a significantly stronger commercial, operational, and financial position, with increased R&D investment, new domestic and international capacity coming online, and a new Series 7 product.”

“In addition, we expect to begin benefiting from the advanced manufacturing production tax credits provided for under Section 45X of the Inflation Reduction Act,” Widmer said during a conference call session, though he said the company is awaiting Internal Revenue System and U.S. Treasury guidance regarding implementation of the IRA.  During the call, Widmer said 45X credits recognized are expected to increase in Q2 2023, driven by timing of module volumes sold and overcoming inventory lag.

In 2022, First Solar exited the Japanese project development and operations and maintenance market by selling its Japan business, including a 665 MW (DC) portfolio of solar development assets, to PAG Real Assets for about $496 million.

First Solar’s common stock traded  up 13.3% today, to $191.59 per share, from closing at $169.14 per share on February 28, before releasing its Q4 2022 earnings results. 

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