- First Solar shipped around 1.7 GW of solar modules in Q1/2022, and reiterated its 2022 guidance
- Its revenues declined 59% QoQ and 54% YoY due to decrease in module sales volume, ASP and lower project revenues in Japan
- Admits indirect exposure to market volatility through equipment vendors as it builds additional manufacturing capacity in the US and India
- Reveals 23.2 GW contracted capacity either with sales freight coverage or no sales freight exposure & 11 GW of latest bookings have aluminum coverage clause
American CdTe solar module manufacturer First Solar, Inc says decrease in module sales volume, ASP and lower project revenues in Japan pulled down its Q1/2022 revenues of $367 million 59% QoQ and 54% YoY, even as it booked 11.9 GW DC new capacity during the reporting quarter alone.
The company shipped around 1.7 GW worth of modules in Q1/2022, and continues to expect between 8.9 GW to 9.4 GW shipments during the entire year as it hasn’t changed the previous guidance for full year (see First Solar’s 2021 Financial Results).
With its cumulative module bookings spread out as multi-year supply contracts, the management says it is sold out for the next 2 years, and has 9.6 GW for planned deliveries in 2024 and 7.6 GW in 2025 and beyond. All of its future expected shipments till 2026 add up to 36.4 GW. It includes all its latest deals, nationally and internationally with Silicon Ranch, Innergex Renewables Energies and Leeward Renewable Energy (see First Solar Bags 1 GW Solar Module Supply Contract).
All in, the module maker touts its total bookings opportunities as adding up to 54.1 GW, comprising 23.7 GW at mid-to-late stage. Of the latter, 16.1 GW exists in North America, 5.4 GW in India, 1.7 GW in the European Union (EU) and 500 MW in rest of the world.
“We are especially encouraged by the continuing growth in our India pipeline, which we believe positions us well to realize multi gigawatts of bookings over the next several quarters,” shared First Solar.
SunPower & Japan business updates
Providing an update to its residential thin-film PV and crystalline silicon tandem solar module collaboration with SunPower, First Solar said the implementation is likely to be delayed beyond 2022 (see SunPower & First Solar To Collaborate Again).
As for its Japan project development and operations & maintenance (O&M) business, it expects to enter into a definitive agreement in Q2/2022.
Exposure to market dynamics
The company, that’s otherwise insulated from global polysilicon supply chain dynamics due to its silicon-free solar PV module technology, still has indirect exposure to market volatility through equipment vendors as it builds additional manufacturing capacity in the US and India.
Management admitted being impacted by delays in shipments due to historically high transportation costs and duration. “Transit times have been exacerbated by the Russia-Ukraine war as several global logistics and shipping companies announced cessations of shipping to Russia, further stranding equipment and vessels, and intensifying backlogs and delays in global shipping industry,” stated CEO Mark Widmar.
To ensure material availability and hedge against logistical challenges, First Solar shared it has 23.2 GW contracted capacity either with sales freight coverage or no sales freight exposure. At least 11 GW of its latest bookings have an aluminum coverage clause that was introduced post March 2022.
Opinion on anti-circumvention investigation
Calling the anti-circumvention investigation of the US government against 4 Southeast Asian nations a ‘positive step’, Widmar stressed, “If the rules are enforced, we are confident that the U.S. solar demand will be met and that we will have a stronger American solar manufacturing industry, serving as a secure, environmentally responsible source of supply.”
Nonetheless, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) cites its updated survey results to show the damage to the US solar industry with the investigation and fears 24 GW of planned capacity loss in the country by 2023 (see SEIA Cuts US Solar Forecast For Next 2 Years By 46%).