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First Solar raises average CdTe cell conversion efficiency to 12.4 %

The firm has however postponed the commissioning of its cadmium telluride solar cell Vietnam factory although total production throughput is expected to reach 70 MW/line annually by the end of 2012.

First Solar has consolidated its manufacturing capacity plan and accelerated progress toward its CdTe module conversion efficiency and production throughput targets.

The company will postpone commissioning of its Vietnam factory until global supply and demand dynamics support the additional capacity. First Solar will continue developing its factory in Mesa, Arizona, in order to supply PV modules for the company's 2.7 GW North American project pipeline. This includes the Agua Caliente, Desert Sunlight, Antelope Valley Solar Ranch and Topaz projects.

In the third quarter, First Solar also began to implement technologies and processes derived from its research and development (R&D) program that produced a world-record 17.3 percent efficient cadmium telluride solar cell in July, resulting in average module conversion efficiency of 12.4 percent from its best-performing production lines during the quarter. Average conversion efficiency for all production lines was 11.8 percent in the third quarter, up from 11.7 percent in the second quarter.

First Solar also expects that continuous improvement programs in its production process, coupled with the efficiency gains, will increase its average manufacturing throughput to 70 MW annually per production line by the end of 2012, up from 63.5 MW per line in the third quarter of 2011.

"Our achievements in R&D continue to showcase the long-term conversion efficiency potential and scalability of our advanced thin-film technology," said Mike Ahearn, Chairman and interim CEO of First Solar. "This consolidation will help us to balance our production with market demand, while still providing local capacity to supply our U.S. project pipeline and the broader American market."
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