First Solar, Inc. today announced that it has achieved 10 gigawatts (GW) of photovoltaic (PV) solar capacity installed globally, making it the first thin film PV module manufacturer in the world to achieve this milestone. The announcement was made at the start of the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, where First Solar is showcasing a comprehensive range of solar energy solutions.
Founded in 1999, First Solar made its first commercial shipment in 2002, and since then its advanced thin film modules have been used in a wide range of applications, from kilowatt-scale mini-grid and rooftop applications, to multi-megawatt utility scale solar energy plants. With enough modules installed worldwide to circle the planet three-and-a-half times, First Solar’s 10GW of installed capacity produces an estimated 14,000 gigawatt hours (GWh) a year. This is equivalent to the annual energy consumption of the city of Washington, D.C. It is also sufficient to power five million average households and displaces the need for as many as 20 average coal-powered plants.
“This is much more than just a celebration of First Solar’s track record and the trust that our customers have placed in our technology. This milestone is a clear indication that solar is no longer a subsidy-driven extra; it has evolved into a valued component of the global generation portfolio, able to hold its own in terms of cost competitiveness and energy yield,” said James Hughes, Chief Executive Officer, First Solar, Inc. “Thanks to our commitment to continuous improvement, we have been able to contribute towards the global transition to renewables by offering our customers solutions to their very specific energy challenges.”
Significantly, with the smallest carbon footprint of all solar technologies, First Solar’s installed capacity displaces an estimated seven million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, or the equivalent of planting 180 million trees. Additionally, with the lowest water use on a lifecycle basis, the use of First Solar’s advanced thin film modules helps displace an estimated 18 billion liters of water per year, sufficient to fill 7,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
A fully vertically integrated solar energy company, First Solar is the global leader in PV research and development (R&D), consistently accounting for the industry’s largest spend in the area1. It was also ranked as the world’s largest solar engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor2 in 2014, and has been entrusted with building some of the world’s largest solar power plants such as Agua Caliente (290MW) and the Topaz Solar Farm (550MW) in the U.S. and Luz del Norte (141MW) in Chile. Additionally, with a portfolio of over 2GW, First Solar is also the industry’s operations and maintenance (O&M) services leader.