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First Solar - A load of hype?



August 05, 2010 – Comments (4) | RELATED TICKERS: FSLR

It seems to me that there was a heck of a lot of hype around a new generation of solar panels and I have been trying to look into what kind of energy gains might be possible in comparison to an existing solar system, but I was unable to find any useful information to that end.  I wrote them and I got a response to look at their website, which is where I was looking for that kind of information, until I got frustrated and wrote to them.

It seems to me that when I looked at the specifications on their panels they didn't look much different then what Daring Lake Research facility had, well the volts and amps were different, but the first solar panels were slightly bigger for less watts.

Any solar experts out there?   I would like to know what justifies the hype.

4 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On August 05, 2010 at 5:16 PM, amoldov (30.36) wrote:

First Solar is rated 5 stars at Morningstar; I don't know the reasoning behind it, but they must have something others don't. It seems First Solar is better than its competitors and I think that "better" refers to pricing/cost of production and not to technology. Did you compare the panels in terms of price per watts? Solar technology evolved quickly in the past few years, maybe First Solar has a great solution now but it is not on the market yet.

But why do you guys care about solar in Canada? You have a lot of oil, natural gas, uranium, your politicians don't talk about "energy independence" and your economy does not need to be stimulated with public funds.

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#2) On August 05, 2010 at 5:56 PM, Gaugamela (89.56) wrote:

Nothing justifies the hype.  The technology in their panels is considered to be better than others.  They're also profitable, which isn't something that you can say about most others in the industry.  Two of their main weaknesses:

1. Solar is heavily subsidized and as the world economy has become increasingly troubled, the subsidies have been put in danger.  They also receive an inordinate amount of their business from Germany, which has announced cuts in the subsidies.

2. One of the main ingredients in their solar panel technology is an element called tellurium, which also happens to be one of the rarest elements in the Earth's crust.

It's an interesting stock, but an $11B company it isn't.  JMHO.


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#3) On August 05, 2010 at 6:13 PM, chk999 (99.97) wrote:

Using Tellurium makes me a wee bit nervous. Nanosolar uses a different (and cheaper) process.

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#4) On August 06, 2010 at 12:08 AM, epeefencer (< 20) wrote:

First Solar is an interesting company.  However, their greatest asset (not their IP or strategy) is their people... their employees.  Here is where First Solar is especially weak.  They have a history of hiring people with shady backgrounds for executive positions, and their HR staff is notoriously bad.  Everyone I have spoken to that has interviewed at First Solar has said that the hiring managers are extremely rude and arrogant, and living in a delusional world of their own imagining.

I think the culture of this company dooms them to failure.  Their technology might be great, but the people that they hire (and don't hire) shows me that they are not a solid investment.  I wouldn't touch them with a 93 million mile pole.

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