6 December 2017
First Solar unveils first functional Series 6 CdTe PV module after Perrysburg factory retooling
First Solar Inc of Tempe, AZ, USA has unveiled the first functional Series 6 thin-film photovoltaic module off its new production line in Perrysburg, OH.
Presented during a meeting with investment analysts at the Perrysburg facility, the large-area cadmium telluride (CdTe) glass-on-glass module was part of the first batch of material run completely through the recently activated line, marking a milestone in a factory retooling that began just under a year ago and included about $177m in capital investment.
In late November 2016, as a response to the highly competitive and dynamic PV market environment and customer demand for higher-efficiency modules, First Solar made a strategic decision to accelerate development and production of Series 6. The new product, still based on First Solar’s thin-film CdTe PV technology, increases physical dimensions and performance characteristics while adding an under-mount frame that allows simple, high-velocity installation of the product in the field. With superior temperature coefficient, spectral response and shading behavior, Series 6 modules can generate significantly more energy than conventional crystalline silicon modules, the firm says.
The new line is expected to begin producing commercial product in early second-quarter 2018, and will have an annualized output of 600MWdc when operating at full capacity.
Series 6 is expected to enter the commercial market with a power rating of 420-445W and conversion efficiency of more than 17%. Measuring about 2m by 1.2m, the modules will provide more watts per lift than comparable crystalline silicon solar panels, and can be installed on virtually any ground-based PV mounting system, says First Solar.
“Last November, we were in full Series 4 production mode,” says CEO Mark Widmar. “Since our decision at the end of 2016 to rapidly transition to Series 6, we’ve hit every incremental target with precision,” he adds.
First Solar will continue to maintain some Series 4 production at its plant in Kulim, Malaysia, as long as economic global demand calls for the product.
Also during the analysts’ meeting, First Solar announced that it is expanding its production facility in Vietnam, doubling capacity of the initial site (which is still under construction). Annualized production capacity in Vietnam, when fully operational, will be 2.4GWdc. In combination with Perrysburg and facilities in Kulim, this will give First Solar a total Series 6 manufacturing capacity of about 5.4GWdc by 2020, and represents about $1.4bn in capital investment.