First Solar will shift its crystalline silicon solar panel production in its Kulim, Malaysia, facility into Series 5 CdTe thin-film solar module assembly. These actions are expected to reduce First Solar’s operating expenses by US$2 million to US$4 million this year and US$8 million to US$10 million annually going forward.
First Solar currently manufactures TetraSun crystalline solar panels in the Malaysian facility but decided to end this production. The facility will be reallocated to offer Series 5 thin-film solar module assembly. The Series 5 assembly line is scheduled to be fully operational by early 2017.
The production shift is implemented because of years of improvement in CdTe technology. First Solar’s CdTe has reached an efficiency of 22.1%, making this product a competitive choice for utility-scale solar projects. Furthermore, CdTe modules’ energy yield in real world has been proven by the market.
“The Series 5 module, and the Series 6 module still in concept development, are game-changing products that position us for exciting growth. They require the full attention of our manufacturing operations,” commented First Solar’s Chief Operating Officer Tymen de Jong.
Jong explained that TetraSun is a sound technology for space constrained rooftops and supported First Solar’s competitiveness in the solar market in the past. By now, improvement in CdTe’s technology will offer better energy yield performance through lower costs.
First Solar plans to end all TetraSun production in Kulim facility and move to the Series 5 assembly line. The termination of TetraSun production in Malaysia is expected to incur impairment and related charges of approximately US$90 million to US$110 million, substantially all of which is expected to be non-cash