First Solar Inc. (FSLR - Analyst Report) given its increasing focus on India has completed an agreement for the supply of thin-film solar modules to Kiran Energy Solar Power Pvt. Ltd. and Mahindra Solar One Pvt. Ltd. The modules will be utilized for two solar photovoltaic (PV) power plants totalling 50 megawatts (MW) DC to be constructed in India’s Rajasthan state.
The two adjacent projects, which together will be one of India’s largest PV installations upon completion, are part of the second batch of utility-scale solar projects concluded under India’s Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (NSM). The NSM aims to install 20,000 MW of new solar electricity generating capacity by 2022.
First Solar will supply more than 585,000 of its advanced, thin-film solar modules for the two projects of 30 MWDC and 20 MWDC. Construction on both projects is expected to begin this year and be completed in the first quarter of 2013.
Together, the side-by-side projects are expected to produce an average of more than 85,000 megawatt-hours of clean electricity per year, equivalent to the annual electricity needs of more than 97,000 average Indian households, and displace more than 80,000 metric tons of CO2 per year based on the national averages.
First Solar has cumulatively produced approximately 80 million of its advanced, thin-film solar modules, which represents a peak generating capacity of more than six gigawatts, enough to power more than 3.3 million homes and displace about four million tons of CO2 per year.
First Solar is the only stand-alone solar player in the S&P 500 Index. Based in Phoenix, Arizona, the company designs, manufactures and sells solar electric power modules using a proprietary thin film semiconductor technology. The company's solar modules employ a thin layer of cadmium telluride semiconductor material to convert sunlight into electricity. It sells its products to project developers, system integrators, and operators of renewable energy projects, primarily in Europe with a distinct focus on Germany. First Solar also focuses on designing and deploying commercial solar projects for utilities.
Currently, the solar industry is experiencing a steep drop in Average Selling Prices. Also, the current macro scenario does not bode well for the solar industry, which thrives mainly on subsidies and grants. However, First Solar stands out among the pack due to its stable liquidity position, which is in sharp contrast to its cash-strapped peers. Moreover, in order to counter the weak trend, the company is focusing more on utility-scale electricity power projects. It is partially compensating for its drop in margins through a major restructuring of its operations.
First Solar presently retains a short-term Zacks #3 Rank (Hold) rating. Over the longer run we also maintain our long-term Neutral recommendation on the stock. This is in line with other solar peers like ReneSola Ltd. (SOL - Analyst Report) and Canadian Solar Inc. (CSIQ - Analyst Report).