First Solar “’ loses
to Chinese, but
expects to regain
market share by 2012
 
Wellinborough, United Kingdom — ESI-AFRICA.COM — O4 November 2010 – American thin film manufacturer First Solar “’ top international producer of PV cells for 6 consecutive quarters “’ lost ground in the third quarter of 2010, increasing capacity by just 2% and moving into third position behind Chinese companies Suntech and JA Solar.

Revealing this development in its latest analysis, IMS Research is predicting that even though demand will weaken in 2011, First Solar will gain market share when it increases production capacity through new production facilities that are expected to start up over the next two years.

First Solar recently announced that it would be expanding capacity by opening two additional four-line plants in the United States and Vietnam in 2012, in addition to previously announced expansions in France, Germany and Malaysia.

Renewableenergyworld.com reports that these expansions would suggest that the thin film supplier’s production capacity will reach over 2.7 GW by the end of 2012 at current line run rates. However, given its history of improving throughput, IMS Research estimates that its capacity could in fact reach over 3 GW by then.

IMS PV research analyst Sam Wilkinson commented: “While much of the industry has indicated uncertainty and a possible reduction in demand in 2011, with Germany’s small commercial segment likely to decrease the most in MW terms, First Solar is expecting an increase in demand for its products and a need to accelerate capacity expansions.”

Wilkenson explained that First Solar expects increased demand to be the result of large solar plants being installed in Europe and North America.

“IMS Research forecasts significant growth for First Solar’s primary market “’ utility-scale PV installations “’ in 2011, with these systems projected to grow five-times faster than the rest of the market,” Wilkinson said.

Assuming demand for First Solar modules remains high enough to keep the additional lines highly utilised, these capacity expansions will help First Solar reduce costs and further outpace its competitors.