First Solar recorded 48.3GW of module bookings in 2022

A production plant from First Solar. The company aims to reach more than 10GWdc of US solar manufacturing capacity by 2025. Image: First Solar.

US thin-film PV manufacturer First Solar has recorded 48.3GW of net bookings in 2022, up 30.8GW from the previous year.

The backlog of future deliveries currently reached 67.7GW, of which the manufacturer managed to sign 12GW since its previous earnings call.

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This year alone it has already secured 7.3GW of module bookings, with several supply agreements signed this week such as a 4GW module supply deal with solar developer Lightsource bp for projects in the US to be delivered between 2026-2028 and further expanded its supply deal with independent power producer Silicon Ranch with 1.5GW of modules, which brings the total supply between the companies to 6.2GW.

During Q4 2022, the cadmium telluride (CdTe) manufacturer produced 2.4GW of modules, which added to previous quarters brings the total to nearly 9.1GW in 2022. Meanwhile, First Solar recently produced its 50th gigawatt of PV modules since it began commercial production in 2002.

In 2022 First Solar produced on average more than 2GW of modules per quarter. Chart: PV Tech.

First Solar targets to add 6.2GW of annual manufacturing capacity in 2023 and reach 21.4GW globally by the end of 2026.

However, First Solar ended 2022 with a net loss of US$44 million, down from a net income of US$468 million in 2021, as the company warned that 2022 would be ‘challenging from an earnings perspective’ as the company faced unprecedented logistics and commodity costs, according to Mark Widmar, CEO of First Solar.

During its Q3 financial results, Widmar dubbed 2022 as a ‘foundational’ year that would set the stage for the company’s growth and profitability into 2023 and beyond.

“We enter this year in a significantly stronger commercial, operational, and financial position, with increased R&D investment, new domestic and international capacity coming online, and a new Series 7 product,” said Widmar.

This year most of the new CdTe capacity added will be aimed towards its Series 7 modules with its 3GW India factory to be operational in the second half of the year, while its new Ohio facility started production during Q1 2023 and will continue to ramp up through the year to reach an annual capacity of 3GW.

The split between its US facilities and international ones will be even with 10.7GW of production, as well as in terms of Series 6 and 7 split with India focusing solely on First Solar’s latest series modules.

Moreover, during Q4 2022 the manufacturer announced a US$270 million investment in a new research and development facility in Ohio as it continues to expand its capacity globally.

“Excluding India, and including our year-to-date bookings, we are sold out through 2025. We have, in recent months, pivoted from negotiating solely for 2026 volume to work with customers who are looking to secure multiyear contracts over the remainder of the decade,” said Widmar during a call with analysts.

Furthermore, First Solar expects to start recording the Inflation Reduction Act Section 45X tax credits during the first quarter of 2023.

In its financial guidance for 2023, First Solar expects to reach net sales between US$3.4-3.6 billion, with an operating income forecasted to be US$745-870 million, while its annual production for 2023 will range between 11.5-12.2GW with a sale of volumes around 11.8GW-12.3GW.

First Solar shares climbed by 3.4% in post-close trading yesterday after its results were disclosed.

Analyst commentary from Seeking Alpha.

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