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Utility-scale PV market surge sees First Solar accelerates capacity expansion

October 20, 2010 | Paul Buckley | 222901652
New market analysis from IMS Research points to the utility-scale PV market being set to surge next year, growing five-times faster than the rest of the industry.
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The high demand predicted for 2011 supports US thin-film solar module producer, First Solars recent decision to make significant increases to its production capacity expansion plans for the next two years. Two additional four-line plants will be added in USA and Vietnam in 2012 in addition to previously announced expansions in France, Germany and Malaysia.

The expansions would suggest that the thin film suppliers production capacity will reach more than 2.7 GW by the end of 2012 at current line run rates. However, given its history of improving throughput, IMS Research estimates that the companys capacity could in fact reach more than 3 GW by then.

IMS Research predicts that First Solars capacity expansion plans are unlikely to be mirrored by many of its competitors who may be facing slowing demand as the German market begins to run out of steam. Looking back to early 2009, while the rest of the industry experienced a stagnating market and slow demand from many countries, First Solar bucked the industry trend, increasing capacity and more than doubling its shipments, increasing its market share (in MW) to 10.7%, from 6.9% in 2008. However, in 2010, whilst its crystalline competitors capacity has been added at a frantic pace, First Solar has added just one extra line and has remained capacity constrained throughout the year. As a result, although total PV installations are forecast to double in 2010, First Solars shipments are predicted to grow by just 25%, causing its market share to shrink to around 8% according to IMS Researchs latest estimates.

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