First Solar began in 1999 as a high-tech startup with a disruptive, very low-cost thin-film solar technology that is ideally suited for utility-scale power plants in hot, sunny environments. Today, First Solar is multi-billion US-dollar company, with over 10GW of total installed capacity worldwide. In my talk I will give an overview of First Solar's history, CdTe module technology, powerplant designs, and market segments. I will discuss utility-scale photovoltaic energy cost in comparison to conventional energy sources. No longer disadvantaged by a lower module power conversion efficiency as compared to multicrystalline silicon, CdTe has unique performance advantages that lead to a relatively higher energy yield.
Dr. Dirk Weiss is Senior Technologist at First Solar, where he is responsible for techno-economic analysis of new technologies, both within and beyond solar photovoltaics. Dirk studied physics, received a doctorate in Materials Science from Max Planck Institute for Metals Research in Stuttgart, Germany, and was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His work experience spans both academia and industry—ranging from a startup to a conglomerate (United Technologies Corp.). His technical expertise includes renewable energy systems (photovoltaics, fuel cells, thermoelectric devices), nanotechnology, and material characterization.