First Solar, energy at $1.14 per watt

Yesterday I posted a blog entry about Nanosolar's manufacturing technique and their claim to manufacture at $1.00 per watt.  I also noted that the reality of the claim was not verified. Meanwhile, First Solar, the world's leading thin film solar panel company, claims to have manufactured panels at a cost of $1.14 per watt in the first quarter of 2008. The company predicts that costs bellow $1.00 per watt are achievable. Whereas Nanosolar uses a photovoltaic made from a copper-indium-gallium selenide (CIGS) semiconductor, First Solar uses a photovoltaic made from cadmium and tellurium (CdTe). Both elements are byproducts of the mining and production of base metals such as zinc and copper. These materials are present in abundant quantities to support multiple giga-watts of annual production.

First Solar announced $196 million in sales in the first quarter of 2008 up almost 300% from first quarter sales of 66 million in 2007. First Solar stock is currently trading at $265 per share.

First Solar will not be left without competition. GE has acquired a majority interest in PrimeStar Solar, a start-up that intends to compete in the CdTe solar panel market. Perhaps even more bullish on the technology than First Solar, the CEO of PrimeStar, Fred Seymour, says he sees a "clear path for getting to 15% conversion efficiency modules" and that the company "is well on track to beat 70 cents per watt without major breakthroughs." Unlike First Solar, PrimeStar Solar does not yet manufacture or sell a product. However, GE intends to achieve 1 billion dollars a year in solar energy revenue within three years.


Solar Max

July 12, 2008 at 7:52 AM

As you mentioned, PrimeStar Solar "intends" to enter the market. At this point PrimeStar Solar has very little to show. The amateurish PrimeStar Solar website has no "Products" listed for sale and under "Customers" they have hung out the "Do Not Disturb" sign. On visiting their Golden Colorado "facility" one might be surprised to discover that there is no sign of solar panels on the roof, not even a fake prototype of what their product might look like. During the tech boom and Dot.Com era, there were many companies which produced "vaporware", which was essentially software that promised to do everything under the sun, but never actually materialized. PrimeStar Solar it seems may be producing a similar ethereal product.

First Solar, AVASolar and others appear to be the real contenders. PrimeStar Solar - well, that remains to be seen.

m cathay

December 21, 2008 at 6:22 AM

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