First Solar: thin film solar breakthrough?

First Solar is  a solar module manufacturer, listed in the US, founded in 1999, employing 6,400 people. It has capacity to manufacture 8GW of solar panels per year, using CdTe thin film technology. This data-file is our First Solar Technology Review, screening the company’s patents and breaking down First Solar’s technology.

Things to like about First Solar‘s CdTe technology are that they use about 60% less energy and emit about 60% less CO2 than photovoltaic silicon.

First Solar also has manufacturing facilities in Ohio, satisfying the growing desire to re-shore the supply chain.

Efficiency is usually lower for CdTe solar, stated “up to 18.6%” for First Solar’s Series 6 cells, whereas we generally assume 20-25% for PV silicon.

However, 70% of the patents in our First Solar technology review were focused on improving efficiency, and thus we might speculate whether improvements lie ahead.

There are also drawbacks to the technology and issues highlighted in the patent screen.

To read more more about our conclusions of our First Solar technology review, please see our article here. We think there is upside in the opportunity to re-shore materials that are increasingly important for the energ transition (here).

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