Why Have First Solar's Installations Grown Almost 14x Slower Than Global Solar Installations?

First Solar’s (NASDAQ: FSLR) total solar shipments have grown from 2.52 GigaWatts in 2015 to 2.71 GigaWatts in 2018, a growth of 7.5%. In the meantime, global solar installations have more than doubled, from 50.9 GW in 2015 to 103 GW in 2018. First Solar saw shipments rise from 2.52 GW in 2015 to 3.1 GW in 2016, before dropping to 2.28 GW in 2017. In 2018, total shipments saw YoY growth, rising to 2.71 GW.

You can view our interactive dashboard- A Look At The Trend In First Solar’s Installations Over The Past 4 Years– to find out more about what drove the slowdown in solar installations.

Why did this happen?

  • Till 2016, First Solar completely relied on their Series 4 solar modules.
  • However by the start of 2017, the new, more efficient Series 6 modules were in production, and First Solar intentionally scaled back on the soon-to-be discontinued Series 4, in a bid to ramp up Series 6 production.
  • This explains the 27% YoY drop in installations, and now that the Series 6 modules are being aggressively rolled out, installations grew to 2.71 GW for 2018, and are expected to rise even more over the next couple of years.

What does this mean?

  • The voluntary drop in solar shipments over 2017, didn’t really hamper First Solar’s total revenue, as sales from the new series 6 helped temporarily drive up selling prices.
  • However, the solar industry has been seeing a continuous increase in competition, and this has been typically characterized with a steady drop in selling prices.
  • Amidst this, a rapid growth in Series 6 capacity installed is the only thing that can offset the steady drop in prices, and help support First Solar’s revenue.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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