First Solar to Restructure, Lay Off 1,600 Employees

By Editors of Power Engineering

First Solar Inc. announced restructuring plans that would lay off over a quarter off its workforce and refocus the company on newer solar modules.

The move would target 1,600 employees out of First Solar’s current total of 6,000, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The restructuring comes as a result of steep price declines and reduced demand in China, as well as uncertainty over the new presidential administration’s energy and tax policies.

First Solar’s 2017 production is expected to fall to 2.2 GW, and the 2020 solar target for China has been cut from 20 GW to 9 GW.

Solar shipments, estimated at 2.8 GW to 2.9 GW this year, are expected to decline to a rage of 2.4 GW to 2.6 GW in 2017.

First Solar will ramp up production of the series 6 modules in the second half of 2017 with a target of three GW of Series 6 production in 2019.

“We feel strongly that our Series 6 modules provide a path for long-term growth and attractive returns, even if today’s challenging market conditions continue,” CEO Mark R. Widmar said in a conference call, noting the new thin-film panels would be more efficient while manufacturing costs would drop 40 percent compared to current modules.