First Solar launching new record 420W thinfilm solar module in 2018
Stefan Degener, First Solar's Head of Business Development for Europe, Turkey, and Africa is revealing some details of the new record Series 6 thinfilm solar module.
Recently you changed your distribution structure. How does it look like?As part of the expansion of its global commercial footprint, First Solar decided to enter a so called collaborative sales agreement. These are strategic partnerships with regional distributors, e.g. with Zorlu in Turkey. By leveraging Zorlu’s commercial strength we expect to gain access to module sales opportunities in emerging markets, some of which we have not previously targeted. Another successful strategic alliance is the cooperation with Caterpillar, in which case Cat-branded solar panels, manufactured by First Solar, are distributed through Cat’s worldwide dealer network.
What benefits will it have?This shift in distribution structure lets us focus on what we can do best: produce high quality and high performance thin-film photovoltaic (PV) modules using First Solar’s advanced andproven technology. Our focus is to provide products with superior performance, reliability and cost effectiveness and continues First Solar’s commitment to innovation with technology. Also, with partners like Zorlu and others, we have regional experts that give us access to new markets and can capture the best value.
Which new markets you are focusing with your strategic partners?At the moment, the focus is on the 26 countries covered by the distributionagreement with Zorlu.
When will you launch your new module series 6?The fully certified product will be commercially available in the second half of 2018. The transition from our current Series 4 module will be seamless, and, for a period, there will be overlapping Series 4 and Series 6 production to address demand.
Can you tell us some characteristics of the new product in terms of performance, quality and price?The new Series 6 PV module is expected to enter commercial availability with a nameplate capacity of 420W and over 17 percent conversion efficiency. Its design with a three times larger form factor is similar to a typical crystalline silicon module and its under-mount frame allows for universal mounting with common fixed-tilt and tracking structures.
Developers and EPCs benefit from a cost-competitive solution driven by higher-velocity installation, reduced Balance of System costs, enhanced packaging design and greater shipping density. The new module retains all the performance and reliability advantages demonstrated over the last decade of performance. As a result, Series 6 will continue to generate up to eigth percent more energy per watt installed, compared with conventional crystalline silicon modules with the same power rating.
Interviewed by Hans-Christoph Neidlein