Update: First Solar signs new, extended PV module supply deals; enters U.S. residential market

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On the same day that the company released its quarterly financial report, First Solar announced it has signed several new and extended module supply agreements. As part of a five-year, 100-MW panel deal with SolarCity to supply the U.S. residential market for the first time, the thin-film PV leader also said it has made an equity investment in the system integrator.

First Solar has entered into a new long-term module deal with Sorgenia Solar, a developer of large-scale, grid-connected solar power plants in Italy, and extended panel supply agreements with several existing European customers, including EDF Energies Nouvelles, Ecostream, Juwi, and Phoenix Solar.

These new agreements expand First Solar’s contracted module volume by 525 MW, allowing for additional sales of approximately $800 million at an assumed exchange rate of $1.15/€1.00 over the period of 2009-2013. The Tempe, AZ-based company said these deals are structured on terms similar to its existing long-term module supply agreements.

The agreement with, and investment in, SolarCity, marks First Solar’s first foray into the U.S. residential segment. The two companies have agreed to a five-year deal that calls for the cadmium-telluride TFPV manufacturer supplier to provide 100 MW of modules to SolarCity. First Solar will begin delivering panels to the system integrator in the first quarter of 2009 and will make a $25 million equity investment in the company (part of a $30 million financing round that will fund SolarCity’s continued U.S. expansion).

SolarCity serves California, Arizona, and Oregon with plans to expand into additional states. The company said its SolarLease financing option allows homeowners to switch to solar power for less money than they currently pay for electricity from their power company, without the need for a large upfront investment.

First Solar saw its revenues grow to $348.7 million in the third quarter and its net income rise to $99.3 million in the period, representing 31% and 42% increases from the previous quarter.

The TFPV company said it produced 136.5 MW of CdTe modules in its factories during the quarter, a 20% uptick from the 114.1 MW manufactured in the second quarter. The line run rate increased slightly to 49.3 MW, while its average module conversion efficiency remained flat compared to the previous period, at 10.7%.

First Solar also calculated its cost-per-watt produced at $1.08 for the third quarter, a 9% drop from the $1.18 reported in the second quarter.

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