First Solar Focuses on Thin-Film Technology to Enhance Efficiency of Solar Panels

Published Date : Jul 05, 2016

In 2013, the acquisition of TetraSun was supposed to transform the future of First Solar. The acquisition was expected to let the company enter into the niche market of rooftops with the manufacturing of low cost and high-efficiency solar panels. These solar panels were expected to be easily manufactured compared to commodity solar panels manufactured in China. However, First Solar has now announced that the company has abandoned the technology and has embraced the thin-film technology. This shows that in the solar industry, it is difficult to develop technology.

New Technology Increases Efficiency of Solar Panels to 16.4%

The acquisition of TetraSun was expected to bring high-efficiency solutions including cells with efficiency over 21%. This would have led First Solar to emerge as one of the strongest players in the solar panels industry. However, the acquisition of TetraSun did not live up to the expectation and hence, First Solar shifted its production line to the latest series-5 thin film technology. This novel technology is expected to lower the operating costs in the range of US$8 mn to US$10 mn per year. First Solar had initially bought the technology from GE and over the period of three years, extensive research activities have resulted to the development of the current thin film technology.

Before the acquisition of TetraSun, First Solar’s solar panls had an efficiency of 12.9%. This was very low compared to its competitors and hence, the company was looking forward to increase the efficiency of its solar panels. The company can now boast of an increased efficiency of 16.4% with the help of its in-house thin-film technology. First Solar is targeting to raise the efficiency of the solar panels to 20% in the near future. The company has a significant potential to improve the technology compared to silicon panels. As a result, First Solar no longer needs the technology of TetraSun.