First Solar strikes Japanese reseller deal, investing $100M in country

|By:, SA News Editor

Leading Japanese oil refiner/seller JX Nippon has agreed to distribute high-efficiency First Solar (FSLR -0.2%) solar modules through April 2015. As part of the deal, First Solar will develop and manufacture technology it obtained through its April acquisition of TetraSun.

Whereas First Solar has historically focused on offering thin-film solar modules for utility-scale projects - they tend to have lower efficiencies than silicon alternatives, but are also cheaper - TetraSun has developed silicon cells with very high efficiencies. That could make them well-suited for Japan, a high-margin solar market where space for residential/commercial deployments is often at a premium.

First Solar has also announced it's investing $100M to build Japanese solar plants in partnership with local firms.

Thanks to rapid growth (aided by generous subsidies) and high margins, the Japanese market has already been a boon to many Chinese solar firms. Solarbuzz estimates Japan's cumulative solar installations topped 10.5GW by the end of August, up ~50% just from the end of 2012.