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.