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bp puts in large First Solar panel order

Lightsource bp and bp to buy 5.4GW of thin-film PV modules Metal Tech News – November 24, 2021

Continuing its transformation from a British company supplying much of the world's petroleum needs for the past 120 years to an integrated energy company embracing a spectrum of energy sources for a low-carbon future, bp has put in orders for advanced cadmium-telluride (CdTe), thin-film photovoltaic solar modules produced by First Solar.

Lightsource bp, the largest solar provider in Europe, and bp have placed multi-year orders for up to 5.4 gigawatts of First Solar PV modules for delivery between 2023 and 2025.

This largest-ever single order of First Solar modules includes 4.3GW by Lightsource bp, which is 50% owned by bp, and 1.1GW by bp, which intends to grow its net developed renewable generating capacity to 20GW by 2025 and 50GW by 2030.

These First Solar modules ordered by Lightsource bp and bp are slated to be installed at projects in Arkansas, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

"To help reach our net-zero ambition and develop 50GW of renewable power by the end of this decade, we continue to invest in clean, reliable energy in the U.S.," said Felipe Arbelaez, senior vice president of zero-carbon energy at bp. "This is exactly the type of energy we want to develop and deliver as we continue to build out our renewable pipeline and ultimately strengthen confidence in our target of delivering 20GW of developed renewables by 2025."

Lightsource bp and bp will benefit from the evolution of First Solar's advanced CdTe thin-film solar technology platform over the span of the agreement.

While the solar market continues to be dominated by traditional silicon solar panels, CdTe modules are becoming increasingly popular due to their ability to absorb sunlight close to the optimal wavelength for converting to electricity and relatively low cost to manufacture.

"CdTe solar cells are the second most common photovoltaic technology in the world marketplace after crystalline silicon, currently representing 5% of the world market," according to the U.S. Department of Energy. "CdTe thin-film solar cells can be manufactured quickly and inexpensively, providing a lower-cost alternative to conventional silicon-based technologies."

First Solar, already a world-leading manufacturer of CdTe solar systems, announced that it is investing $680 million to expand its U.S. photovoltaic solar manufacturing capacity by 3.3GW per year.

When fully operational, this new facility will expand First Solar's total production capacity at its Ohio manufacturing complex to 6GW per year, which is believed to make it the largest fully vertically integrated solar manufacturing complex outside of China.

"The U.S. solar industry is at an important inflection point where it must continue the charge towards delivering 45% of our country's electricity by 2050 while addressing the risks and uncertainty posed by increasingly volatile solar panel production, pricing, and supply," said First Solar Chief Commercial Officer Georges Antoun. "This is where we come in. Our ability to help our customers manage these risks by providing long-term firm pricing and supply commitments, backed by First Solar's reputation, is a key differentiator."

Lightsource bp says its large order from First Solar is a testament to its confidence in the solar company's ability to deliver high-quality, durable, and efficient solar panels that meets its needs in the U.S.

"As we continue to grow and progress our 10GW development pipeline across America, in addition to our partner bp's 9GWs, executing significant long-term procurement agreements with bankable, world-class suppliers like First Solar enables us to deliver on our growth plans and industry-leading global target of 25GW of solar by 2025. It also translates into competitively priced electricity for our customers," said Lightsource bp Americas CEO Kevin Smith.

Aspiring to be among customers benefiting from that competitively priced electricity, First Solar has signed a memorandum of understanding to explore opportunities to power its Ohio manufacturing facilities with Lightsource bp generated electricity.

This would be a major step in First Solar's goal of transitioning its U.S. facility to 100% carbon-free electricity by 2026. Having a significant portion of that power generated with CdTe, thin-film solar modules produced at those factories would be a bonus.

First Solar has committed to powering all of its global operations, which includes facilities in Vietnam, Malaysia, and India, with renewable energy by 2028.

First Solar also operates an advanced recycling program that recovers more than 90% of cadmium and tellurium from spent solar panels for use in new modules.

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Shane Lasley, Metal Tech News

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With more than 16 years of covering mining, Shane is renowned for his insights and and in-depth analysis of mining, mineral exploration and technology metals.


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