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By Samuel R. Avro on Feb 25, 2009 with no responses

First Solar Inc. Cuts Manufacturing Costs to Below $1 Per Watt

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First Solar, Inc. announced today that it had reduced its manufacturing cost for solar modules in the fourth quarter to 98 cents per watt, breaking the $1 per watt price barrier.

“This achievement marks a milestone in the solar industry’s evolution toward providing truly sustainable energy solutions,” said Mike Ahearn, First Solar chief executive officer. “First Solar is proud to be leading the way toward clean, affordable solar electricity as a viable alternative to fossil fuels.”

The company is the largest manufacturer of thin film solar modules, having expanded manufacturing capacity to an expected 735 MW in 2008; and with additional plants under construction, First Solar will bring total expected capacity to more than 1 GW by the end of 2009.

First Solar began full commercial operation of its initial manufacturing line in late 2004. From 2004 through today, First Solar’s manufacturing costs have declined two-thirds from over $3 per watt to less than $1 per watt.  is confident says it is confident that further significant cost reductions are possible based on the yet untapped potential of its technology and manufacturing process.

Ahearn expressed thanks to governments in Germany and other countries for making today’s milestone possible. “Without forward-looking government programs supporting solar electricity, we would not have been able to invest in the capacity expansion which gives us the scale to bring costs down,” he said. “First Solar’s ongoing focus on cost reduction enables continued growth even as subsidies decline. In the meantime, those initial investments are paying off in a cleaner environment and in the creation of thousands of jobs with a clear future.”

“This represents a major milestone for the solar industry,” said Ken Zweibel, an industry veteran currently serving as Director of the Institute for the Analysis of Solar Energy at The George Washington University and former Program Leader for the Thin Film Partnership Program at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo. “In order to address climate change in a meaningful way, we need energy technologies that are affordable, scalable and have a low environmental impact on a life-cycle basis.