Solar, Utility Scale

First Solar (FSLR) falters in Q3, aims for 2011 recovery, says IMS Research

First Solar continued to lose ground in Q3, according to the latest analysis from IMS Research. Chinese rivals Suntech and JA Solar will both overtake FSLR, having increased their production capacities rapidly as demand has spiraled in 2010.

(November 1, 2010) — US thin film PV producer First Solar (FSLR) continued to lose ground in Q3 2010, according to the latest analysis from IMS Research. Having been the largest producer of PV cells for 6 consecutive quarters, an increase of just 2% means that it will move to be the third largest in the third quarter.

Chinese rivals Suntech and JA Solar will both overtake First Solar, having increased their production capacities rapidly as demand has spiraled in 2010.

Despite losing share of the PV module market throughout 2010, largely due to limited increases in its production capacity, IMS Research predicts that weaker demand and increased pricing pressure in 2011 will leave First Solar positioned to regain some share as it brings new capacity on-line.

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“IMS Research projects that after more than doubling in 2010, PV installations will grow by less than 10% in 2011,” commented PV research analyst, Sam Wilkinson. “We forecast that PV module prices will decline by over 15% in the first half of 2011 as demand weakens in key European markets following reductions in feed-in tariffs (FIT),” continued Wilkinson, “First Solar’s industry leading margins and significant pipeline of utility-scale systems in North America will stand it in good stead as the market becomes more competitive in 2011.”

Although its position in the PV module market continues to decline for the moment, the world’s largest producer of thin film technology recently reported that revenues had increased 36% over the previous quarter to reach record levels upon the completion of its 80 MW PV plant, the world’s largest, in Ontario, Canada. The supplier’s gross margin also remained highly competitive, although declining by a small amount due to a fall in module prices and increased costs.

Ongoing detailed quarterly analysis of PV module demand, supply, pricing, margins, costs and installations is available from IMS Research. If you would like an interview with an expert in this area, please contact Ash Sharma, research director, [email protected] or +44 1933 402255, or visit www.PVMarketResearch.com

IMS Research provides market research and consultancy services on a wide range of global electronics markets. http://www.pvmarketresearch.com.