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First Solar, Inc. (FSLR - Analyst Report) announced that it has begun the construction of its Campo Verde Solar Project located near El Centro in Imperial County, California. The company expects to complete the solar power plant in 2013.

With an electric generation capacity of 139 megawatt (“MW”), the project will generate electricity that is sufficient to power 50,000 average California homes.

The company will install its own advanced thin film PV modules for the construction of the project. These modules have the capacity to generate clean and renewable energy with no emissions and water consumption during operation. The solar project is eco-friendly and the have the capacity to displace 80,000 metric tons of CO2 annually, which is almost equal to taking 15,000 cars off the road. The project will create 250 jobs during its construction period and contribute more than $230 million to Imperial Valley through tax revenue and providing funds for agricultural benefits.

In December 2012, the company had received all the required approvals from Imperial Irrigation District (“IID”) to cross IID”S Westside Main Canal with the project’s transmission line.

First Solar has been busy in construction of solar projects as well as supplying of solar modules under contracts for the construction of solar projects. Recently, it was chosen by Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (“DEWA”) for the construction of a 13 megawatt (MWDC) solar photovoltaic (“PV”) power plant in Seih Al Dahal. Per the deal, besides providing engineering, procurement and construction services, the company will also supply its advanced thin-film PV modules to the plant. Separately in another contract, First Solar will supply its advanced thin-film solar modules to one of Zhenfa's approved solar projects in Xinjiang province in the first quarter of 2013.

Apart from bringing in clean energy worldwide, these contracts will allow the company to demonstrate their ability and photovoltaic (PV) technology. Moreover, it gives the company a diversified exposure geographically.

Like First Solar, another solar power company Suntech Power Holdings Co. Limited is also moving toward development of solar projects. Suntech Power will deliver 100 megawatts (MW) of solar panels for the two planned projects in South Africa undertaken by a syndicate steered by Mainstream Renewable Power.

Based in Tempe, Arizona, First Solar designs, manufactures, and sells solar electric power modules using a proprietary thin film semiconductor technology. Though the company’s solar cells convert sunlight to electricity less efficiently than traditional silicon PV modules, thin film PV cells have an advantage of producing electricity even in lower light. This ability to produce electricity under a wide range of light conditions make these cells attractive for utility companies that require stable large-scale, utility-sized renewable energy production.

However, along with its solar peers JA Solar Holdings Co., Ltd. (JASO - Analyst Report) and SunPower Corporation (SPWR - Analyst Report), First Solar is currently witnessing a steep drop in Average Selling Prices. The company presently retains a short-term Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) that corresponds with our long-term Neutral recommendation on the stock.

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