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IQE

5 July 2016

First Solar shifts Malaysian production capacity to Series 5 CdTe PV module assembly

First Solar Inc of Tempe, AZ, USA – which makes thin-film photovoltaic modules based on cadmium telluride (CdTe) as well as providing engineering, procurement & construction (EPC) services – is reallocating production capacity at its facility in Kulim, Malaysia to support a new assembly line dedicated to its recently announced Series 5 thin-film photovoltaic module.

As a result, First Solar will end production of its TetraSun crystalline silicon solar panel product currently manufactured there, and expects to incur impairment and related charges of $90-110m (substantially all of which is expected to be non-cash). These actions are expected to reduce First Solar's operating expenses by $2m to $4m this year and by $8m to $10m annually going forward.

The shift in production capacity is driven by First Solar's long-range business plan, which focuses on maximizing its core technology based on CdTe, according to chief operating officer Tymen de Jong.

"Over the past two years, execution of our CdTe technology roadmap has positioned the product as the industry leader for utility-scale solar, as well as established a promising path into the future," says de Jong. "The Series 5 module, and the Series 6 module still in concept development, are game-changing products that position us for exciting growth. They require the full attention of our manufacturing operations," he adds.

"TetraSun is a sound technology for space-constrained rooftops, and served largely as a hedge against CdTe technology competitiveness that had challenged us in the past," de Jong continues. "With the success of our CdTe roadmap reflected in our record 22.1% cell efficiency, along with the proven higher energy yield and superior performance inherent in our thin-film technology, that hedge is no longer needed." 

With this production transition, virtually all of the Kulim production associates previously assigned to the TetraSun line will move to the Series 5 assembly line, which will be in full operational mode by early 2017.

Tags: First Solar Thin-film photovoltaic CdTe

Visit: www.firstsolar.com

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