As the demand for utility-scale solar projects in the U.S. is cooling, First Solar has turned its focus to the fast-growing residential market. Last month, the company invested in Colorado-based Clean Energy Collective to mark its foray into the community solar segment. Community solar allows residential and business customers to use solar energy without having to install panels on their rooftops.
The U.S. residential market remains promising, but First Solar could see even bigger growth through geographical diversification. During its third-quarter earnings call, the Tempe-based company said that about 56% of its 13.7GW potential bookings would come from markets outside North America. A big chunk of them are expected to come from emerging markets such as the Middle-East, Latin America and India.
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According to research firm Trefis, worldwide solar installations rose 20% YoY to 48GW last year. The research firm expects the installations to jump to 58GW in 2016. Earlier this week, First Solar announced that it has surpassed total PV installed capacity of 10GW. The company aims to increase its global market share from about 20% to 25%, and emerging markets could help it achieve that goal.
India a promising opportunity for First Solar
India’s new government has committed to invest $100 billion in solar energy by 2022. The country aims to increase the share of solar in its total energy mix to at least 10% in the next seven years. That’s a huge opportunity for First Solar, which already has a substantial presence in India. Sujoy Ghosh, head of First Solar India, said that the company will not only focus on solar cells but also on utility-scale projects.
Last year, the company won a contract to build a 45MW solar project in the central Indian state of Telangana. It is building two other projects in collaboration with Mahindra Solar and Kiran Energy Solar Power. The company has also been working on big solar projects in other countries. It has started work on 141MW Luz del Norte solar project in Chile. In Jordan, it has signed a deal to provide procurement and engineering construction services for the Shams Ma’an solar plant.