First Solar Inc of Tempe, AZ, USA – which makes thin-film photovoltaic modules based on cadmium telluride (CdTe) as well as providing engineering, procurement & construction (EPC) services – says that, working together with its financial and legal advisors, it is reviewing alternatives for the sale of its interests in 8point3 Energy Partners LP (a limited partnership formed in March 2015 by First Solar and solar panel and system maker SunPower Corp of San Jose, CA, USA to own and operate a portfolio of selected solar energy generation assets). First Solar will coordinate the review with its partner SunPower.
In recent months, First Solar has taken actions to strategically align its resources and capital in support of its transition to its new Series 6 CdTe PV modules.
Last November, First Solar announced an acceleration of its roadmap for Series 6 production into 2018, with about 3GW of production expected in 2019. Over the course of 2017 and 2018, the existing production facilities are being converted to Series 6 production and the current Series 4 product is being phased out. As a result of the change in roadmap, the firm has cancelled its Series 5 product.
As a continuation of these efforts, First Solar is exploring options for selling its interests in 8point3 in order to refocus resources on Series 6 objectives and to allow faster recycling of systems business capital. This capital would support the planned transition to Series 6 production and provide additional funding for the expected deployment of multiple gigawatts of Series 6 capacity over the next several years. First Solar also intends to accelerate the return of capital from its systems business by selling projects earlier in the construction phase. This includes the California Flats and Cuyama projects, which have been formally offered to 8point3. If 8point3 is unable to acquire these projects, First Solar expects to sell these projects to third parties.
“We remain committed to developing, constructing and selling utility-scale solar power plants,” says CEO Mark Widmar. “Series 6 has the potential to be a transformational product and provide attractive returns to our shareholders. As we accelerate the cash conversion cycle from our systems business, we will further enable this important transition in our business,” he adds.
“We want to thank SunPower for their partnership in forming 8point3, which has a portfolio of high-quality solar assets and proven operating performance,” Widmar continues. “We look forward to working cooperatively with them through this process.”