First Solar, Inc.
) has entered into two-year collaboration and licensing agreement
). Per the agreement, both will work together to improve the
conversion efficiency of First Solar's cadmium telluride (CdTe)
solar cell technology.
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First Solar uses CdTe as a semiconductor to produce panels that
are less expensive than those manufactured from crystalline
silicon. By means of Intermolecular's proprietary High
Productivity Combinatorial (HPC) platform, the partners intend to
work jointly to increase the performance of CdTe solar cell
Intermolecular, Inc. aims at improving conversion efficiency in
the semiconductor and clean-energy industries with the help of
its HPC platform. The main motive behind this collaboration is to
provide advancement to First Solar's module conversion
First Solar has been providing its CdTe solar cell technology to
power plants. In October last year, First Solar was chosen by the
Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (DEWA) to construct a
solar photovoltaic ("PV") power plant in Seih Al Dahal. Apart
from providing engineering, procurement and construction
services, First Solar will provide CdTe thin-film PV modules to
the 13 megawatt (MWDC) plant.
Solar cell manufacturers continue to invest in research and
development (R&D) with the sole objective of producing
advanced PV modules with higher conversion rates. This is crucial
as higher conversion rates bring down the cost of implementing a
solar power project. However, they are facing strong competition
from their Chinese counterparts in the U.S. The China-based
companies have flooded the market with lower priced solar
modules. We believe the one way to counter this threat is by
developing cheaper, high-quality solar modules. In December last
year, the company manufactured its most advanced thin-film
photovoltaic (PV) module, the Series 3 FS-392, which is rated at
First Solar Inc. designs, manufactures, and sells solar electric
power modules using a proprietary thin film semiconductor
technology. Though First Solar's solar cells convert sunlight to
electricity less efficiently than traditional silicon PV modules,
thin film PV cells have an advantage in producing electricity
even in less light. Also, First Solar designs and manufactures
solar modules using a proprietary thin-film-semiconductor
technology, which allows it to reduce its average solar module
manufacturing costs to the lowest in the world.
However, along with its solar peers like
Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd.
), First Solar is currently witnessing 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. First Solar presently retains a short-term Zacks #3
Rank (Hold) that corresponds with our long-term Neutral
recommendation on the stock.