First Solar Inc.
) and Sir Ratan Tata Trust announced plans to collaborate on a
pilot project to provide safe drinking water and irrigation to
rural communities in India's northern Uttarakhand state.
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Many remote villages of the middle Himalayas lack basic
infrastructure such as roads, health facilities, schools and
electricity. In Uttarakhand, even many villages that are connected
to the electrical grid receive only erratic electrical service. In
the absence of electric pumps, collecting water from spring sources
and carrying it to villages - a job that usually falls to women -
can take three to four hours a day.
Through its charitable giving program, First Solar has joined
forces with the Sir Ratan Tata Trust to develop a pilot project
using First Solar's advanced, thin-film photovoltaic (PV) modules
to help off-grid villages in the region receive a reliable supply
of clean energy for essential needs such as safe drinking water and
irrigation. The aim of the pilot project is to develop an
integrated solution that is low-maintenance and simple for the
communities to install, maintain and use.
The pilot project, which will be managed under the Trust's Central
Himalayan programme (Himmotthan Pariyojana) by the Himmotthan
Society, will consist of two solar PV power plants which will be
built in the Chureddhar and Chham (Gunogi) districts, Tehri
Garhwal, Uttarakhand. If successful, the pilot project could be
replicated across hundreds of villages throughout India.
The Sir Ratan Tata Trust is one of India's oldest philanthropic
organisations. For more than a century, it has provided grants and
partnered with organizations that engage in innovative and
sustainable initiatives and have the potential to make a visible
difference. Sir Ratan Tata Trust's programme in Uttarakhand has
focused on providing rural communities in the region with
affordable, long-term solutions for livelihood enhancement and
resource management. This pilot would complement ongoing livelihood
enhancement work by the Sir Ratan Tata Trust and field partners
through community institutions.
First Solar will donate 100 modules to the pilot project, which
will combine First Solar PV modules with water pumps to move water
from spring sources into storage tanks in order to provide the
village with a safe and convenient water supply. The project will
benefit 65 households with a population of 530 individuals in the
First Solar is the only stand-alone solar player in the S&P 500
Index. Based in Phoenix, Arizona, the company designs, manufactures
and sells solar electric power modules using a proprietary thin
film semiconductor technology. The company's solar modules employ a
thin layer of cadmium telluride semiconductor material to convert
sunlight into electricity. It sells its products to project
developers, system integrators, and operators of renewable energy
projects, primarily in Europe with a distinct focus on Germany.
First Solar also focuses on designing and deploying commercial
solar projects for utilities.
Currently, the solar industry is experiencing a steep drop in
Average Selling Prices. Also, the current macro scenario does not
bode well for the solar industry, which thrives mainly on subsidies
and grants. However, First Solar stands out among the pack due to
its stable liquidity position, which is in sharp contrast to its
cash-strapped peers. Moreover, in order to counter the weak trend,
the company is focusing more on utility-scale electricity power
projects. It is partially compensating for its drop in margins
through a major restructuring of its operations.
First Solar presently retains a short-term Zacks #2 Rank (Buy)
rating. Over the longer run we also maintain our long-term Neutral
recommendation on the stock. This is in line with other solar peers
Canadian Solar Inc.