Saturday, April 23, 2016

Thin-Film Solar PV - First Solar Inc Thriving

Subtitle: High Efficiency and Low Cost Yields Profits

For some time, it appeared that the Chinese move into silicon PV production would ruin any chances of companies in other countries having an ability to compete in the solar electricity market.  Among those almost-casualties is First Solar Inc., which was founded in 1999 and is headquartered in Tempe, Arizona.  (FSLR traded on NASDAQ)  The Company has approximately 100 million shares of stock outstanding valued at $61.54 at close of trading 4/22/2016.
Graphic by NREL, showing typical layers of a CdTe cell
 (note: no investment advice is intended, nor is any to be construed from the above publicly-available information.   Stocks are risky investments, and may go down in price as well as go up.  FSLR had an all-time high of $291 per share in 2008, and all-time low of $12.56 in 2012.)

A recent article in Chenected by AIChE describes the company and its thin-film technology for PV. see link  "Last month, the Tempe, Arizona-based company (First Solar) announced it had set a new record in its research lab for cadmium-telluride cell efficiency, at 22.1 percent."   Cadmium-telluride cells are thin-film (see link to NREL pdf, and photo at right)

Also, "First Solar just became the first thin film manufacturer to ship 1 GW of solar PV to India. Importantly, unlike many of its competitors, First Solar is also profitable, making $546 million in profit last year on $3.6 billion in revenue."
From WorldAtlas, light area in center shows Tropical Zone

Solar by thin-film technology aims to capture the solar market by out-performing the silicon-based PV wafers that have a higher efficiency but much higher cost.   Where land is abundant, and sunny, the appeal of thin-film PV is great.  For much of the world that has such a combination of little or zero electricity presently, abundant land, and adequate sunshine, thin-film PV is attractive.  This includes almost all of Africa, a large part of Brazil, almost all of the Middle East, India, Pakistan, southern China, southeast Asia, Indonesia, and northern Australia.   These areas all lie within the Tropics Zone north and south of the Equator. 

With affordable, battery-based electricity technology soon to be available from BioSolar and their modified polyacetylene battery, the solar PV systems can bring effective electricity round-the-clock to areas in need of electricity.  see link to "This Battery Is A Game-Changer."

More on CdTe cell technology, from NREL:  "CdTe-based thin-film solar cell modules currently represent one of the fastest-growing segments of commercial module production. This is due partly to the simplicity of the two-component absorber layer (i.e., CdTe contains only cadmium and tellurium) and the ability of bulk cadmium telluride source material (in the form of high-purity powders) to be reconstructed into the CdTe thin films needed to produce PV modules. During the 20+ years of research undertaken by the CdTe Group, much effort has been directed at producing CdTe structures that allow more light to penetrate the top layers of the device (the transparent conducting contacts and cadmium sulfide [CdS] layers) to achieve high efficiency. This understanding has been transferred to commercial processes for use in producing higher-performance modules."

Roger E. Sowell, Esq.
Marina del Rey, California
copyrignt © 2016 by Roger Sowell, all rights reserved 

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