First Solar suspends Vietnam plant construction

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At the inauguration yesterday, First Solar confirmed to pv magazine that the FF02 and FF01 factories are operating at full capacity, with all staff fully employed, which amounts to 500 MW of production. First Solar has also confirmed that it will continue to develop its factory in Mesa, Arizona. The U.S. plant will supply the company’s 2.7 gigawattt (GW) North American project pipeline.

However, in a move that appears to confirm weaker-than-expected demand, the Vietnam factory will be shelved for the time being. Construction began at the site, 25 kilometers north of Ho Chi Minh City, in March of this year.

In other manufacturing news, First Solar has also announced a series of accomplishments, including average module efficiency of 12.4 percent from its best production lines, with a worldwide average of 11.8 percent. Line throughput is also now expected to reach 70 MW by the end of 2012.

66 MW Californian project

First Solar has also announced that it will supply, provide engineering, construction and procurement services (EPC), and operate and maintain a 66 MW solar power plant, in Lancaster, California. The project will supply power in a 20-year agreement to the Pacific Gas and Electric Company.

Called the Alpine Solar Project, construction will begin before the end of the year. The company hopes to complete installation by the third quarter (Q3) of 2012.

Jefferies questions US projects

Market analysts Jefferies have raised concerns over some of First Solar’s U.S. project pipeline. In particular, the 230 MW Antelope Valley Solar Ranch One project, which was acquired by First Solar in July 2010. In a statement issued yesterday, Jefferies cites a "lack of visibility" surrounding the project and the Department of Energy (DOE) loan guarantee underwriting it.

The second project Jefferies highlights is the 550 MW Desert Sunlight project, in Riverside Country, California. Describing the problem being a "lack of clarity" surrounding the vast project, the analysts question whether contract terms may result in the project not generating revenue until 2015.