First Solar in Dialogue with US Utilities

On April 3, 2008, First Solar Inc., a thin-film photovoltaic (PV) solar equipment manufacture, announced that the company is in dialogue with US utilities to build renewable energy projects. In 2007, First Solar saw its stock skyrocket, added a new facility in Germany and began construction of another in Malaysia. The company is currently supplying solar panels for a 40MW system located in eastern Germany with a cost efficiency of around US$4 per watt.

Most US utilities use solar technology but in a different way than PVs: by using mirrors to concentrate solar power to generate steam from liquids to power a turbine. Solar thermal systems are inherently more efficient and require less capital investments than solar PVs. Nonetheless utilities are looking at solar PVs to generate electricity directly from solar cells. Last week, Edison International’s Southern California Edison utility announced plans to construct the the most powerful photovoltaic solar system in the US that can generate 250MW, an amount that can power 162,000 homes. First Solar bought Turner Renewables for US$34 million last year to get into the utility market and to reduce its cost efficiency to US$3 per watt.

The development of US utilities moving toward renewable energy sources is a positive development and is getting some much-need push from a number of states that require a certain portion of energy be generated from renewable energy sources. I wonder if there are any federal mandates in the pipeline.

Source: Power Management Design Line

[tags]First Solar, Germany, Malaysia, Southern California Edison, Thin Film PV, Thin Film Solar, Thin-Film Photovoltaic, Turner Renewables, Photovoltaic[/tags]

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