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Solar cell manufacturer First Solar Inc. (FSLR - Analyst Report) will supply its advanced thin-film photovoltaic (PV) modules for four solar energy plants in France. These solar farms will have a combined capacity of 48 megawatts (MW). The projects will be developed by a French renewable energy company, Photosol.

Power generation from fossil fuel is primarily responsible for green house gas emissions. Countries worldwide are becoming increasingly aware of environmental degradation from unbidden fossil fuel usage. They are particularly trying to curb emission by enforcing stricter regulations and promoting alternate sources to produce power.

France is trying to revive its solar sector and has a promising market. These alternate power plants in France will be designed in such a fashion by which its impact on communities and ecosystems will be minimal.

Photosol has partnered with FirstSolar for the first time and has around 250 MW of solar projects in its pipeline. So, we see a window of opportunity for FirstSolar to export more PV units to France.

FirstSolar has consistently invested in R&D to improve its quality of modules. In Apr 2013, FirstSolar achieved a record 16.1% total area module efficiency in tests confirmed by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The high conversion rates of FirstSolar modules make it widely popular among alternate power developers across the globe.

To enhance its sales volume, FirstSolar has decided to expand its footprint by investing $100 million in Japan. The Japanese government has set a target of producing 28 gigawatts of solar power by 2020 to replace its idled nuclear power. Japan is going to be a major market for solar cell producers and FirstSolar’s decision to invest there makes good business sense. In Nov 2013, the company started the construction of a 1.4 MW solar plant in Japan, which is expected to come online in the first quarter of 2014.

First Solar currently carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).  Other players in the solar cell industry, which look attractive at current levels, include Enphase Energy, Inc. (ENPH - Snapshot Report), JinkoSolar Holding Co., Ltd. (JKS - Snapshot Report) and Trina Solar Limited (TSL - Snapshot Report). All these stocks carry the same Zacks Rank as First Solar.
 

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