First Solar marked a major milestone in its re-tooling towards producing large-format modules today, with the production of its first Series 6 module on new production lines at the company’s factory in Ohio.
The 1.2 x 2 meter modules are expected to become commercially available at 420-445 watts with efficiencies of over 17%, which is a testament to the thin film solar maker’s remarkable progress with cadmium telluride PV.
The retooling in Perrysburg began a year ago and has represented roughly $177 million in investment; when the retooling at First Solar’s much larger factory in Malaysia is complete the cost will be around $1.4 billion dollars.
First Solar expects to begin full-scale commercial production of Series 6 in Ohio in 2018, and to reach 600 MW-DC annually at this factory.
Concurrent with this milestone, First Solar has announced that it will not only be expanding its facilities in Vietnam to double the originally planned production capacity to 2.4 GW-DC annually. The twin factories in Vietnam are expected to begin production in late 2018 and early 2019.
Altogether, this means that with both its current Series 4 and the new Series 6, First Solar expects to have around 3 GW of annual capacity in 2018, 5 GW in 2019 and 5.7 GW in 2020.
And there is no shortage of demand for the new product, especially given the exemption for thin-film PV under the Section 201 case. First Solar announced two deals, a 595 MW supply arrangement for a combination of its smaller-format Series 4 and Series 6 with Origis Energy and a 200 MW Series 6 deal with D.E. Shaw.
The Origis deal will run from this month through 2020, and First Solar will supply Series 6 to D.E. Shaw in 2019. All are destined for projects in the United States.
Update: This article was updated at 1:03 pm EST on 12/05/17 to put the retooling of First Solar’s Malaysia factory at a more precise $1.4 billion.